Following months upon months of speculation, we finally have official word from Microsoft that existing Windows Phone devices will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 “Apollo” when it is released this fall. Rather, Microsoft is cooking up an incremental update — dubbed Windows Phone 7.8 — that will bring some of the UI/UX improvements and features that aren’t dependent on hardware in WP8, such as the revamped Start Screen to legacy devices.
Microsoftie Greg Sullivan succinctly explained the reasons behind this while speaking to The Verge right before the Windows Phone Summit earlier today:
“The nature of the investment [in Windows Phone 8] is primarily in areas that are not exploitable by existing hardware.” Windows Phone 8 introduces support for multi-core processors, amongst other things, so the “Lumia 900 getting support for using dual-core or NFC doesn’t mean a lot,” says Sullivan, “because it doesn’t have the hardware to take advantage of that.” Microsoft decided to focus its efforts on Windows Phone 8 to make it as good as it possibly could. “To do the work to bring all of those elements to a platform that can’t exploit them wasn’t necessarily the most efficient use of resource,” explains Sullivan.
While, with all of the major hardware changes in WP8 it’s really impossible for legacy devices to get a substantial upgrade, there’s no doubt that this will leave some Windows Phone users burned. From now up to Fall — when WP8 is set to be released — and beyond as devices crop up, people will still undoubtedly be buying the very flagship Windows Phones that came out earlier this year, such as the Lumia 900.
Beyond the new Start Screen, Microsoft didn’t really delve into what other UI/UX and functionality enhancements the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade will bring to legacy devices today, but we’re sure that they’ll have more to share on Windows Phone 7.8 (and Apollo) in the near future.
Image Courtesy: Windows Phone Blog