Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
4/18/2012
08:16 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion

Will Windows Phone 7 smartphones be upgraded to Windows Phone 8? Microsoft declines comment on conflicting reports, and its silence isn't helping its cause.

A series of reports published about Microsoft's Windows Phone over the past few days contradict one another, and the lack of clarity coming from Microsoft may wind up hurting the company.

Earlier this week a Portuguese website called Zwame interviewed Microsoft developer evangelist Nuno Silva. During the course of the interview, Silva said that the current installed base of Windows Phone smartphones--most of which are running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango--would be updated to the "next major version" of Microsoft's mobile platform. Zwame assumed that meant Windows Phone 8 (or whatever official name Microsoft decides to bestow upon the future OS).

Looking to verify that report, The Verge reached out to its own sources, and came up with the opposite answer. The Verge's Dieter Bohn reported, "A trusted source close to Microsoft tells us that is absolutely not the case, that instead there will be no upgrade path from Mango to Apollo." The Verge points out that its information aligns with information previously published by ZDNet writer and Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley.

[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft's upcoming PC operating system, Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]

When reached for comment, all Microsoft would cop to was, "We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases."

This is about what I got from Microsoft spokesperson Greg Sullivan last month during the Nokia Lumia 900 launch. When I queried him about Apollo, which is the codename for Windows Phone 8, he said, "I can neither confirm nor deny anything about that."

Why is this a big deal? It leaves customers in a lurch, that's why.

Think about it in terms of Android. If you bought the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 in December 2011, you'd expect that when Android 5.0 arrives a year later your device would receive the update, right? That's not how it is going to play out for Microsoft Phone owners, if we believe The Verge's source. If devices such as the brand-new Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II, both of which are for sale via AT&T, can't update to the next version of Windows Phone, Microsoft is going to have a customer service problem on its hands.

Microsoft is set to launch Windows 8 computers and tablets later this year. Many in the mobile world expect that Windows Phone 8 will launch at about the same time. This massive launch will culminate a year's worth of work on Microsoft's part to align its desktop and mobile platforms. It's truly exciting stuff.

If there's one thing Microsoft absolutely should not do, it is to forsake the customers who've actually bought into Windows Phone 7. Do I expect Microsoft will? That's a hard question to answer, though I have doubts that Nokia, which updates almost every device in its arsenal, will be comfortable leaving its Windows Phone 7 adopters out of the Windows Phone 8 party.

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YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2012 | 10:46:59 AM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
Developers were already told that Silverlight is a dead end.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2012 | 12:51:02 AM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
Think about this for a moment. It makes no sense for a carrier to subsidize the bulk of a phones cost hoping to recoup it under a two year contract. In the case of the Lumia 900 for instance which was just released to market, if it was not upgradable to Windows 8 later this year, then AT&T would get killed, Nokia would get killed, and Microsoft would get killed. These guys aren't THAT dumb now are they?

My educated guess is that all parties are having to sort out which phones will be upgradable by Carrier and by phone model before they release anything to the public.

I will venture that I could do a much better job handling PR for these guys. They need help in articulating a roadmap.
CIO
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CIO,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 3:10:16 PM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
What a complete and utter disaster.

If the "Microsoft Portugese evangelist" is a Microsoft employee, and said the wrong thing, then Microsoft should correct it, or risk being sued by every Lumia buyer who thinks they'll get an upgrade to Windows Phone 8, but will later be told they won't.

Microsoft is sitting silent, in paralysis, unable to make an official statement from head office. Ballmer, what are you doing?

The next disaster will affect Windows Phone developers, who will eventually be told that Silverlight is out and WinRT is in.
pgouldsw1
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pgouldsw1,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 2:36:41 PM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
How do you know it's Microsoft breeding confusion? It's more likeely online tech sites. I very much doubt a "trusted source" would scupper the launch of the Lumia 900 and Titan II with this sort of thing. More likely cooked up by those who want WP to fail and hoping to deter new customers.
kbags
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kbags,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 2:11:24 PM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
Frank - I agree completely. While some of us "tech" guys worry about upgrades, I've talked to pretty much everyone at my office, and they have no idea what I'm even talking about when I refer to phone OS upgrades. Most of the office uses an Android device, and have no idea what I'm talking about when I ask whether they are rocking GB or ICS. I guess this is what you meant by feature phone users migrating to smartphones.

The only part of the article I took issue with was "If you bought the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 in December 2011, you'd expect that when Android 5.0 arrives a year later your device would receive the update, right?" Not so sure that is correct, given the delay almost every phone seems to encounter in getting Android updates tested, approved, and distributed by the carrier.
Frank Castle
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Frank Castle,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 2:01:15 PM
re: Microsoft Breeds Windows Phone 8 Update Confusion
Whats the confusion? Did Microsoft have an upgrade for those on Windows Mobile to Windows Phone? They often didn't even provide upgrades between Windows Mobile 6 and 6.5.

The idea (expectation) your device will get "upgrades" is dead. The new OS is tied to a new device thus forcing the hardware upgrade. Your mobile device is disposable. Why would the carriers/OEM want to provide OS updates a year or so after it's sold? What they should do is offer OS upgrades that add features for a cost. Then those that want to extend their device life can do so.

The reality is less than 5% of smartphone owners care about OS upgrades. Unless it's to fix something broke the bulk of people don't even upgrade .. until they buy a new phone. That is what carriers want and that is how the market is changing due to feature phone users migrating to smartphones. (The dumb down effect)
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