By now, all you Windows Phone 7 device owners should be well aware that you’re not going to be joining the Windows Phone 8 party. Microsoft has chosen to keep WP8 exclusively on new devices, and won’t be back-porting it to older WP7 devices. As a consolation prize, the old hardware will be getting an update to the existing WP7 operating system called Windows Phone 7.8, and it will bring many of the visual and interface elements of WP8 to the older devices.
The bad news is, Microsoft has managed to mess up the timeline a little bit. They’ve already shipped Windows Phone 8, and consumers are already picking up the Lumia 920 in droves, but owners of the old Lumia 900 and its peers still don’t have Windows Phone 7.8. The 7.8 update was announced back in June of this year, and now Microsoft says it won’t be ready until “early 2013.”
It’s a raw deal for people who adopted the WP7 platform recently, as many of them are getting left out of the loop after just a few months of owning their hardware. If the 7.8 update had arrived alongside WP8, it would have gone a long ways towards mitigating some of the ire of the WP7 community, but Microsoft has given a pretty strong indication of where their priorities lie by delaying WP7.8 so far after the release of WP8.
When the update does finally arrive, it will bring the customizable live tiles of WP8 to the older platform, which is a much-lauded feature that will surely be appreciate by WP7 users. There’s a couple other minor feature coming along with the 7.8 update too, such as new lock screens and extra theme colours. All of this will only help WP7 users to a certain extent, however, as they’re still stuck on an operating system that won’t be getting much in the way of developer support these days. Most developers are already fully on board the WP8 train, and are unlikely to continue to development for Windows Phone 7.8 once it arrives.
All told, this whole debacle is one of the biggest shortcomings of Microsoft’s recent self-reinvention. They’re obviously looking forward to all their new platforms, and focusing their attention on them, which is cool…but the fact that they’re abandoning their old hardware and its users so quickly is anything but.