Noted Microsoft commentator Paul Thurrott has confirmed with his own sources that Microsoft will indeed be leaving Windows Phone 7 devices behind in terms of updates to Windows 8, after last week’s string of reports left people and news organizations confused on the state of updates for hardware, including the recently released Lumia 900.
Thurrott had this to say:
There were some dueling stories about whether it would be possible to upgrade any existing Windows Phone handsets—including first-generation Windows Phone 7 devices and newer Windows Phone 7.5 handsets like the Lumia 900—to the forthcoming Windows Phone 8. Allow me to set the record straight. No. It won’t happen. Not for the Lumia 900, and not for any other existing phone. It won’t happen partially, through an update that will deliver just some features, and it won’t happen for those who wish to pay for such an update. It simply isn’t happening. Sorry. But please don’t email me about this; I’m just the messenger. That said, please consider the following logic behind this decision, which doesn’t explain why I can be so emphatic about this topic—sources at Microsoft confirmed this for me anonymously after the company’s infamously hard-to-reach Windows Phone PR team belatedly offered up a “no comment” after repeated queries. First, there’s no economic imperative; Microsoft’s partners have sold very few Windows Phones, and supporting a new platform on legacy hardware would be expensive. Second, the experience would be terrible; Windows Phone 8 is based on Windows 8, not Windows Phone 7.x, and requires headier, higher-end hardware with two or more core processors. Third, handset makers and wireless carriers would never support this upgrade; they want to sell new phones. And finally, wireless carriers would never, ever, ever, ever deliver this update to users. There is just no way this will ever happen. And that’s true even when you factor out that I know for a fact that this isn’t happening. Again. Sorry.
Now, on one hand this makes sense as Windows Phone 7 has been treading water since its launch in November of 2010 despite millions of dollars in marketing and support from Microsoft to manufacturers and carriers, but it also underscores Microsoft’s predictable behavior when faced with a failed product when spending millions doesn’t work.
Despite the agreement with Nokia signed last year that was supposed to instantly revitalize the platform and led to the popular Lumia series, the losses registered by the Finnish manufacturer recently also demonstrate how far in the hole both companies are in regarding mobile in general.
With Microsoft looking to hit the reset button on mobile once again with Windows 8, they’re risking further alienating customers that took the risk on Windows Phone 7, as the 7.5 Refresh Update is currently only available on the Lumia 900 on AT&T in the US while the rest of the world will have to wait until June to receive the penultimate update to Windows Phone 7.
As Microsoft’s Windows Phone PR arm is actively ignoring broaching the subject on Windows 8 updates for Windows Phone 7 hardware, at this point its safe to say that Windows Phone 7 owners will have to pay up if they want to use Windows 8 proper. At this point, it makes little difference, Microsoft is moving ahead with Windows 8/RT at the cost of Windows Phone users.