updated 01:45 pm EST, Fri March 2, 2012
Windows Phone 8 may need new phones to work
Hopes that Windows Phone devices would get long term updates may have been dashed early through a combination of leaks and statements. Tips for the historically very accurate Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet have indicated that Apollo, informally known as Windows Phone 8, won't be handed out to any earlier devices. While Microsoft hadn't confirmed it, the company's Windows Phone Corporate VP Terry Myerson said in a Mobile World Congress event was elusive on updating existing phones and would only say that apps would switch over.
"We haven't announced Windows Phone 8, but in terms of [compatibility] I can show you our goal to [make sure] all Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8," he said. "Application compatibility is always something, where there's always stuff on the fringe... the spirit is our goal that all Windows Phone applications today run on our next release."
The approach if authenticated could create a rocky transition for a platform that already has small market share. With devices released just months before Apollo possibly being denied an update, it would see the entire existing customer base going without new features other than those coming through apps. Details of the new OS are few but, in rumors, have suggested an at least partly unified code base with Windows 8 on the desktop as well as support for multi-core processors and NFC wireless.
Cutting off existing owners so soon would paradoxically undermine Microsoft's attempt to give Windows Phone owners the advantage of speedy, universal updates, as with the iPhone. While Google has often been criticized for letting companies drop Android update support too quickly, it would still leave many Android devices with a longer support lifespan than Windows Phone 7.