Last week, at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco, Microsoft officials revealed some key features of the next version of Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8. Among other things, they noted that existing devices will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8, and instead, all devices running Windows Phone 7.5 will get a free upgrade to Windows Phone 7.8.
Not much was revealed about Windows Phone 7.8 besides the fact that it will have the new Start Screen from Windows Phone 8. Of course, Microsoft and Nokia touted the fact that all the existing apps will continue to work on Windows Phone 7.8 and in fact, Nokia talked about updates to their Lumia apps as well as some new apps which will help in “keeping Windows Phone 7.8 fresh”.
However, as an early adopter of Windows Phone I feel disappointed that I won’t get much of the Windows Phone 8 goodness. I don’t feel cheated as such, because a good friend gave me his Lumia 800 and I am quite happy to wait for Windows Phone 8 devices, but I can imagine you feel so if you bought the HTC TITAN II last month at a subsidized price of $199. You are not only locked into a 2-year contract but in 6 months your phone will be far behind most of the devices in the market.
Most of the reasons why existing devices won’t be upgraded are well understood – new features need better hardware, some features cannot be supported without new chips (NFC, for example), engineering costs of making stuff work on older devices is way too much compared to the shelf lives of these devices and the total volume of these devices on the market – but it is not the early adopters’ fault that Microsoft felt the need to do a reset #2 just two years after their reset #1 from Windows Mobile 6.x to Windows Phone 7.
I understand that consumer-facing features in Windows Phone 8 have not been revealed yet, and Microsoft may have more up their sleeves in terms of additions to Windows Phone 7.8, but if we go by what has been revealed yet, it is highly disappointing. Add the fact that apps built for Windows Phone 8 won’t work for Windows Phone 7.8 and you see that either developers will build cool apps which Windows Phone 7.8 users won’t be able to run, or apps will be built for Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 hardware will end up being under-utilized. A terrible lose-lose situation.
I sure hope the only features of Windows Phone 8 that don’t make it to Windows Phone 7.8 are the ones totally dependent on hardware, like NFC and of course, the new core. Things like IE 10 and Wallet (without the NFC-related features) have absolutely no reason not to be available to Windows Phone 7.8.
One thing is certain – Microsoft has burned me (and many other early adopters, I am sure). I am not going to be an early adopter of Windows Phone 8 devices, despite the assurances given that another re-imagination won’t happen anytime soon.
What are your thoughts regarding Windows Phone 7.8? Are you ok with what has been said so far? Do you care about receiving the latest updates?