Goodbye Windows Phone 7.x – Hello, Windows Phone 8?

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Android, iOS, Windows Phone

So let’s start with the elephant in the room.  Windows Phone 7.0 and 7.5 phones will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 8.  All existing and potentially new Windows Phones released before and possibly after the release of the Windows Phone 8 platform will be upgradable up to Windows Phone 7.8.

Windows 7.8 is designed to give current Windows Phone the look and feel of Windows Phone 8 without loosing any of the features and benefits of their current phone(s).  This is not very different from what Apple has done several times in the past.  We don’t think about this much and we shouldn’t, this is how great platforms are developed and quickly forgotten.

Some Examples of how many times Apple replaced existing architecture for a clean break to the future

* Apple 1 to Apple 2
* Apple 2 to Apple III (Apple III+ gave back some backwards compatibility)
* Apple 2/III+ to Apple Lisa
* Apple Lisa to Mac
* Apple MacOS for PowerPC to MacOS 10 for Intel x86
* Apple MacOS 32-bit to MacOS 64-bit

Just like Micorosft is now doing with Windows Phone 8, Apple has done and continues to do similar upgrades and breaks compatibly with older systems or not all features are available for older generations.

This has happened with each generation of the iPhone, a new OS is released and only some features are available for older generation phones.

People didn’t get angry at Apple for coming out with new Phones or coming out with new features exclusively for the newest device(s) — consumers accept this as fact and the way business is done.

Heck, there is no technical reason why an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 can not run Siri, yet it is only available for the newest iPhone 4S.  And iOS 5 is no different, many features will not be coming to the 4 and nearly no new features will be accessible in iOS 6 when installed on the 3GS.

So now we will talk a little bit about Microsoft’s history

*  Microsoft DOS (MS DOS) 1.1 all the way to MS DOS 6.1 (Windows 2 ran on DOS 6) all were backward compatible with earlier computers.
*  Windows 1.x allowed users to run all their DOS apps either in a window or full screen
*  Windows 95 ran all the apps for released for Windows 1, 2.11 AND still ran DOS app
*  Microsoft developed OS/2 for IBM and while IBM wanted to continue to run all older apps as DOS and Windows had done before OS/2, Microsoft pushed ahead and created Windows NT – breaking compatibility with some but not all apps
*  And since Windows NT in 1993 until today, most all of those apps designed in the early-mid 1990s still operate today on Windows 7 and soon Windows 8.  I know this because I have friends who still install 10+ year old licensed apps on their new PCs without having the pay the high price for the latest versions -which they don’t need

So, Windows Phone 8 will run “all the apps” designed for Windows Phone 7.x un-modified, even on new higher resolution screens.

Will the release of a new Windows Phone 8 platform make everyone’s existing Windows Phones garbage? Heck no!  These phones are still excellent phones and I guarantee that these phones will have better battery life than any new dual-core or hi-res Windows Phone 8 devices.

In fact, I don’t think that Windows Phone 7.x is going anywhere.  I bet there will continue to be a market worldwide for single core Windows Phone 7 devices.  The hardware is still competitive with current single core smartphones, apps being designed and released today still run incredibly fast on first generation phones running at clock speeds of “only” 1GHz.

People who use Android and iOS don’t completely understand that a modern OS can work well on a single core device, but it does – Windows CE was designed from the ground up to work on low power risc processors.   Poor performance isn’t driving Microsoft to develop an updated Windows Phone 8 platform, quite the contrary, Microsoft is bringing the power and function of a PC down to tablets and to smartphones – there is a difference.

Android really needs dual and quad core phones and tablet to keep up with iOS and now Windows Phone 7/8, why? because the Android platform is a wild west with no one company driving features, performance or even making sure that your second let alone third or fourth core is actually being used by apps and the Android OS.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon, it’s just not possible to do.  There are several reasons for this and I’ll just say some of them as they come to mind; several ARM cores and specialized versions of those cores and graphics chips from multiple vendors, multiple wifi chipsets, Bluetooth stacks, sime have video output, different sized screens, and speeds, etc. etc. etc.

Then add one more BIG thing, since there is no product cycle driven or directed by Google like their is for iOS and Windows Phone, you have new phones designed nearly from the ground up every 3-6 months from every vendor.  No two phones are the same, and no two phones or tablets can share the same OS and drivers. There just isn’t enough time for Samsung, HTC or LG to fine tune the Android OS for any or all devices they manufacture or ship.

So, should the announcement of Windows Phone 8 keep you from purchasing a Windows Phone 7.5 device today or next month?

That depends and I think that people reading this or other tech blogs may want to wait, but the market for smartphones is so much larger than the techie community that I think that 90% of the people looking for their first or second smartphone SHOULD buy a Windows Phone device.

The Windows Phone 7.x devices and apps aren’t going anywhere and I believe that many will still be developed in the future.  Will there be new apps that can only run on Windows Phone 8 – SURE, but if the phone you use or purchase today does everything you want or need, a new Windows Phone 8 will not make your phone any less desirable or less functional.

Now that Microsoft has shown many of the new things coming to Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 things are just going to get better, people are going to respect you more and they might even think you are cool for getting in on the Metro bus early.

I know I am super happy with my Nokia Lumia 900 LTE phone and it does everything I want it to do – except maybe run Skype in the background – but seriously, do I really use Skype to do that anyway? Nope. 😉

I don’t think anyone truly believed that MS would put the NT kernel onto existing Windows Phone 7.x devices.

I am happy enough with receiving the new Windows 8 Metro interface.

Sure, newer apps and technologies will only be available to the latest Windows Phone 8 devices, but that’s really not all that different than Apple with iOS.

When the 4S was released it came with Siri and the currently and still shipping iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 do not have Siri and the 3GS does not have many of the new features on iOS 5 and the upcoming iOS 6 leaves many features missing on older phones – which are by the way still selling well in stores.

I am excited for Windows Phone 8.  If all the phone vendors put 110% support behind Windows 8 like Nokia has, people will run to new beautifully crafted phones.

Microsoft Surface has shown the OEMs what they are capable of and not just that; they are also telling the industry, If you don’t design compelling products – we will! 🙂

People upgrade phones, tablets and computers for new features and additional functionality.  It’s not because their device/computer no longer works, it’s that they expect and want more.

Today’s Windows Phone 7.x devices are great products, they do everything and more than when they first shipped whether it was 18 months or 2 months ago.

What happened to all the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen iPhones???  They got handed down to family and friends because they are still great phones – I see this being true for Windows Phones as well.

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