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Lack of upgrade path gives cause to pause, but may not affect the average buyer significantly

While the official party line from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is that it has not announced whether there will be an upgrade path for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) handsets, such as the Lumia 900 LTE by Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), to future operating system versions, the rumor-mill is abuzz that the answer is "no".

I. No Upgrade Path for Windows Phone Mango

No one knows precisely when the next version of Windows Phone will land.  But leaked slides from 2011 point to a Q2 launch of a lightweight variant (Tango) and a Q4 (likely October alongside Windows 8) launch of the next high-end release --- Windows Phone 8 (code-name: Apollo). With Mango devices like the Lumia 900 finally starting to appeal from an aesthetics and hardware perspective, the question on the minds of many is whether these second-generation Windows Phones will be compatible with the third-generation Apollo operating system.

Again, there's been no official word from Microsoft, but signs pointing to "no" began when blog WMPowerUser interviewed Microsoft developer-cum-WP promoter Nuno Silva, who claimed that the devices would be eligible for upgrade:

That possibility was cast into serious doubt, when Mr. Silva posted a blog followup retracting his claim and apologizing.  In the blog he writes:

I recently participated in an interview with the Portuguese website Zwame, where I made some comments on the future of Windows Phone that created confusion. Rumors are swirling, so I feel the need to clarify my statements.

The point I was attempting to make was simply that existing Windows Phone applications will run on the next version of Windows Phone. This is the same guidance that Microsoft shared late last year.

I mistakenly confused app compatibility with phone updateability, which caused the rumors we saw yesterday.  I did not intend to give the impression I was offering new guidance on any products under development or their upgradeability.

While there has been no official word, that denial coupled with reports from top reporters with ties to Microsoft -- SuperSite for Windows' Paul Thurrott [link], ZDNet-veteran Mary Jo Foley [link], and The Verge's Dieter Bohn [link] -- indicates that it’s unlikely that any Mango device will receive an Apollo upgrade.

Paul Thurrott offers perhaps the most insight, writing:

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.

Of course Microsoft has already made it absolutely clear that Mango will continue to received patches and updates -- including bug-fixes, performance enhancements, and security-updates -- until end-of-life (EOL).  So, no upgrade does not mean "no update", by anyone's estimation.

Sources: YouTube [Interview], MSDN, SuperSite for Windows

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Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 11:31:40 AM , Rating: 4
There are no "reports", only rumors. No new information has come out from Microsoft about the update. But if we are going to post rumors, then at least acknowledge two different accounts that they are currently testing WP8 on all Lumia devices currently.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 11:33:17 AM , Rating: 2
I said currently twice in the same sentence. My apologies.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By JasonMick on 4/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By Varun on 4/23/2012 12:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, with Paul saying it is not going to happen, it certainly seems like it is not going to happen. Still, I think it is a mistake since I doubt there is any technical reason that they can't get around. I mean, they have basically help a single hardware spec since launch. The device makers would have to tailor it though, something I doubt most of them would do.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By hydrata on 4/23/2012 2:57:57 PM , Rating: 2

I bought the AT&T M-Cell a few months ago and it's made my life much easier. If you do the same, I suggest calling customer service first and complaining a bit about service quality. I was told to do this by rep's at an AT&T store, so I wasn't just being a whiner. After speaking with the customer service rep on the phone, he agreed to place a $100 credit on my account. Also, AT&T was running a promotion at the time where if you sign up for unlimited calling minutes for the M-Cell you get a $100 credit. I was able to cancel the unlimited minutes for the M-Cell after one billing cycle but still keep the credit. These two tactics resulted in my M-Cell being almost free. Give it a shot.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 11:52:27 AM , Rating: 1
The rumors that say "no" come from much more credible sites with a track record of getting them right most of the time. All you have for the "yes" column is some news about MS testing WP8 on older hardware translated from Chinese.

It's unknown, but heavily leaning towards "No update"

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 2:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
MS Nerd is well known to get information about Microsoft correct. They are all equally credible, in that none of these is as credible as Microsoft itself. And they haven't said anything yet.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 2:45:58 PM , Rating: 1
Wanna place a $10K bet on it?

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By InvertMe on 4/23/2012 3:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
What are you 5? What a stupid comment..

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 3:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
Step 1: Google 10k bet
Step 2: Feel like a jackass

Now, I'm not rich like Romney so I can't afford to risk $10k with a stupid bet, but I'm open to betting where the loser takes a yearlong vacation from DT, still interested?

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 6:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I'll take that bet. Year long vacation, no posts.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 6:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad you can always come back under a different account, but you're on. I bet that there won't be an official MS sanctioned upgrade path from WP7.5 to WP8 on the current crop of WP7 devices as of today, including the Lumia 900.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By haukionkannel on 4/23/2012 4:11:33 PM , Rating: 3
We allso have to remember that what win8 brings is multicore support (along other hardware upgrades) and as we well know, older mobile win 7 based phones are singlecore machines, so there would not be many reasons to upgrade...
What I expect is that we will get mobile win 7 upgrades (at least security upgrades) from time to time to these older models. It would be the most logical and allso customer friendly thing to do!

provocative title - got me here :)
By ictia on 4/23/2012 11:55:53 AM , Rating: 4
good unbiased write up. indeed, there is *no* official word from either nokia or microsoft. unfortunately, a lot of these articles fail to realize that providing an upgrade path in this case is *not* entirely in microsoft's hands. any upgrade work -- probably most of it -- would need to be done by nokia, in the case of the lumia 900. microsoft releases the base os with canned support for a set of hw. take for example android 4.0 ics upgrades ... do we contact google and ask if the galaxy s2 will get it ? no right ? we ask samsung! samsung is providing the upgrade to it's list of popular models. for nokia, the big hit out of the ballpark is the lumia 900, so this is kind of a hint in regards to how nokia will treat this handset.

finally, your last paragraph is something people often neglect as well -- eol for existing platforms. for wp7 (aka windows embedded compact 7), you can find it in very plain english here: yes folks, that says 2016 with extended support to 2021. so, worse case, if wp8 turns out to be another vista, it will still be smooth sailing for us lucky lumia 900 owners :) don't let all this FUD prevent you from getting a really good deal on a great piece of hardware here -- this is the most bang for your buck compared to the competition.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/23/2012 7:32:12 PM , Rating: 1
take for example android 4.0 ics upgrades ... do we contact google and ask if the galaxy s2 will get it ? no right ? we ask samsung! samsung is providing the upgrade to it's list of popular models. for nokia, the big hit out of the ballpark is the lumia 900, so this is kind of a hint in regards to how nokia will treat this handset.

Might wanna explain this to Takin and Tony and Pirks and whoever else that's been railing on "Android" in general for not upgrading every phone out there to 4.0 ICS.

So much for that supporting argument. Now that existing WP7 headsets won't be getting the next big upgrade either, wonder what they will come up with next?

By mckinney on 4/23/2012 7:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
take for example android 4.0 ics upgrades ... do we contact google and ask if the galaxy s2 will get it ? no right ? we ask samsung! samsung is providing the upgrade to it's list of popular models

The difference is Samsung has said they will upgrade the GS2 to ICS.

I think Paul is wrong.
By InvertMe on 4/23/2012 2:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
There are too many reports of developers running WP8 on current gen phones to rule out the possibility of an upgrade. It even runs on the Lumia 610 but not well.

Really though we can speculate forever but until Microsoft lays out the plan we just don't know.

I think the reason for the silence is partly because it's not a simple yes or no answer. I am sure if current gen phones get Apollo there will be some caveats. These things more than likely still being worked on by Microsoft and vendors. Also Microsoft stated they will be playing with it's Apollo cards close to the chest. They don't want to give Android and Apple time to make sure they offer all the same features. Without some last minute surprises there can be no WOW factor when the phone hits the market.

All that said - I still think my current gen mango powered Windows Phone offers the best user experience out there and will continue to do so regardless if it gets Apollo or not.

This whole upgrade issue is much ado about nothing amyways. You don't see people crying about their Android phones not getting ICS. They just use what they have and buy new hardware when upgrade time comes. As for Apple upgrading it's older hardware, the 3gs runs like crap with new versions of iOS. It would have been better just to leave them behind. If Microsoft cannot make WP8 run well on current hardware I don't want it.

I have to cut this short.. work calls but I'll finish my post after!

RE: I think Paul is wrong.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 2:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
My iphone offers the best user experience as I can play Galaxy on Fire 2, make free voip phone calls with Viber (works MUCH better than skype, and you don't have to be online to receive a call), and then check my bank and brokerage accounts, even trading stocks if I want to, without visiting clumsy websites, since they ALL have free iOS apps.

Generic Statement
By ICBM on 4/23/2012 12:45:57 PM , Rating: 3
Mr. Thurrott's statement and logic could apply to any handset maker / OS. We have seen Apple updates become the expected norm, with Samsung and HTC basically being forced to follow suit. This is without the execution of Apple or Microsoft with the 7.5 update.

For Microsoft's own good, I think they need to offer the update. They have some momentum right now, and they need to keep it going if they want to pull this off.

However, if the update bogs down the current hardware, I will happily stay with 7.5. I much prefer a snappy, smooth interface than new features and sluggish performance. The most important thing is app compatibility and apparently it has that, so we will have to see.

Where is Tango?
By Ristogod on 4/23/2012 11:27:21 AM , Rating: 2
Before I get into a hissy about whether or not my phone will support WP8, can I at least get Tango so my keyboard disappearing bug gets fixed?

But yeah, anyone coming this late into Windows Phone would expect that they'd get updates for a couple of years. To buy a Lumia 900 today and have WP8 roll out in less than a year and be excluded from it is pretty crappy.

By BSquared on 4/23/2012 6:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
I feel that even if Microsoft forgoes a WP8 rollout for existing WP7.X models, that someone will either port a ROM or come up with a custom BSP to support WP8 on Lumia's and the like. As long as hardware support is there, the OS can be ported. This not unlike flashing a Pocket PC 2002 device to Windows Mobile Pro 6...which I've done.

No guarantee of OS upgradability.
By fteoath64 on 4/24/2012 2:31:43 AM , Rating: 2
People are concerned about OS updatability because other competing platforms guarantee at least 2 years of OS upgradeable before the hardware is not longer supported in a new version of the OS.

So it seems, was clear from the message. Apps yes, fully compatibility but OS not sure. (Means possibility of not being able to upgrade). That is the message people wanted and they got that. It is fair enough but unfortunate for MS.

Because they could say: We guarantee upgradability of specific handsets to WP8.0 but will not do so for WP9, which would be reasonable.

By kleinma on 4/24/2012 10:22:28 AM , Rating: 2
The reality is mostly that it does not matter. How many of your average consumers go into a store to buy a smartphone, with even the concept of OS updates for the devices? How many android phones get sold without any indication or promise on when, if at all, OS updates will come down the pipe? I am using a droidX running android 2.3. Sure I could root it and flash it and installed a slow as hell ICS on it, but I won't and it is stuck on 2.3, and guess what, it still works.

Your average consumer simply does not care about this stuff, and will not make their purchase decision based on such things, which are always subject to delays and changes anyway...

By ankil1980 on 4/24/2012 4:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
please check Windows Phone 8 browser score on . Now on upgradibility of first generation of wp7 could be in question, but i would expect 2nd generation is future proof, especially n800,n900, titan II, focus s atleast for wp8.

Misleading Title
By Mitch101 on 4/23/12, Rating: -1
RE: Misleading Title
By geddarkstorm on 4/23/2012 11:56:24 AM , Rating: 1
WP8 is a completely different kernel from what I understand. Everything about the OS is different. I don't think WP7 can be simply "updated", hence why MS has made no promises that it will or can. If it could, they would have made an announcement already, as that's an important factor for their marketing of the WP7 devices.

MS is rather clever though, so we'll see if they are able to figure out a way.

RE: Misleading Title
By acer905 on 4/23/2012 12:12:56 PM , Rating: 1
Think of it this way. Can you "upgrade" from XP to Vista or 7? Or can you re-install the new OS over top of the old one. If they do it right the update, which like Mango will be a tethered update, should be able to do a full OS re-install if needed. The kernal change really shouldn't have that much of a factor, especially if they keep app compatibility.

RE: Misleading Title
By Mitch101 on 4/23/2012 3:36:53 PM , Rating: 2
Windows Phone 8 being tested on Nokia Lumia 800, new features detailed

Nokia Lumia 610 on the low end and Nokia Lumia 900 on the high end will indeed get the Windows Phone 8 update

RE: Misleading Title
By ictia on 4/23/2012 12:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
having a different kernel does not preclude an upgrade. if you don't recall, we all did this when we upgraded win 3x to 95 to xp and the linux folks do this almost like every day. this really has nothing to do with whether or not there will be an upgrade. upgrading software is *always* possible "provided" that the hw is supported -- i don't see how hw just released (eg. lumia 900) will no longer be supported by wp8. it could be that wp8 requires 1gb ram, whereas the lumia has only 512mb, but again, we can keep talking and guessing, but we'll just have to wait and see ... in the meantime, wp7 is still very much supported and it's one lean mean os!

RE: Misleading Title
By Mitch101 on 4/23/2012 3:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed and Microsoft is not going to abandon the 80,000+ apps and make everyone start over again.

RE: Misleading Title
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 3:43:06 PM , Rating: 2
WP7 apps working under WP8 and running WP8 on WP7 devices are two completely different things. First one is easy enough to accomplish, the second one depends on the hardware requirements for WP8

RE: Misleading Title
By Mitch101 on 4/23/2012 4:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
I hope you don't think I'm implying running WP8 on WP7 that's like expecting Windows 7 64 bit apps to run on XP 32bit.

RE: Misleading Title
By epobirs on 4/25/2012 9:14:29 PM , Rating: 2
Really? How many people went all the way from Win3.x to XP on the same machine? I had a Pentium 133 that was the newest thing you could get when Win95 shipped, so there was some overlap with Win3.x there. I would not have wanted to try running XP on that machine.

I don't think you realize how much of a kernel change is involved here. This isn't like a new Linux revision. It's more on a par to the shift from Mac OS 9 to OS X, which was a version of NextStep that had been taught the Mac APIs. For WP, it's going from a code base descended from WinCE to a ARM version of the NT code base. It is only abstraction and APIs keeping the existing software running, as the underlying OS will be a very different beast.

RE: Misleading Title
By mcnabney on 4/24/2012 9:36:23 AM , Rating: 2
MS is not clever. In fact, for the amount of talent they employee they are amazingly stupid.

For example, they couldn't figure out how to do an upgrade from WHS1(32 bit) to WHS2 (64 bit). Durrrr. Step one - make new 80GB partition (that is all that it needs). Step two - install WHS2 into that partition. Step 3 - reboot into that partition and begin process of recognizing existing file structure/tombstones and rebuild from the previous install. Step 4 - Delete the old 40GB OS partition. Done. MSFT with all of their billions of dollars and thousands of employees couldn't figure that out. And they wonder why WHS2 was a complete failure?

Rumors and sticking your head in the sand....
By jnemesh on 4/23/12, Rating: -1
RE: Rumors and sticking your head in the sand....
By JasonMick on 4/23/2012 12:34:53 PM , Rating: 4
It looks like the kool aid drinking Microsoft fanboys again refuse to accept reality. If the new release is six months out and they are saying "no comment", what do you THINK that means? When someone says "yes it will get upgraded" in a foreign interview, then the WHOLE INTERVIEW gets retracted, and they revert back to "no comment", what does that tell you?

This is shaping up to be very entertaining. I simply can not WAIT to hear the wails from the dejected fanboys when they realize they got a "free" phone on a 2 year contract that is essentially rendered useless and obsolete by Windows 8. Should be pretty fun listening to Microsoft and Nokia trying to spin this too!
First off, I think there's a difference between fanboys and multi-platform users who like Windows Phone because of the superior UI. I think at this point, given that most users with Windows Phone had to ask explicitly for it (given that carriers did not try to sell it to customer until recently), such users are in the majority. I think your fabled "Windows Phone fanboys" are largely non-existent -- most Windows Phone users are multi-platform users who have experience on Android and/or iOS.

I like Android, but I don't like the ICS UI as much as Mango's gorgeous UI. Likewise I like iOS's core apps, but not as much as Windows Phone's hubs graphically appealing hubs.

I use virtually every major OS -- I had a MacBook Pro (bought for the great weight/battery vs. similar designs at the time) and spent most of my time in Windows 7, but occasionally would dip over to OS X. While I hate OS X, I could appreciate some things on it -- e.g. search is very fast vs. Windows 7.

(Build issues have crippled my MBP for now, awaiting screen frame repair. I'm largely using a bulkier MSI GT460 at this point...)

And I am a heavy Linux user and enjoy the customization of exploring shell scripting. But on a day-to-day basis for word-processing internet-browsing I prefer Windows 7.

(My C/C# development time is roughly split 50-50 between Windows 7 and Linux.)

I use whatever works.

If that makes me a "fanboy" of whatever platform, so be it.

I do have to say that if Mango users think they're getting an upgrade, they're being unrealistic at this point. But I also think those who are eager to attack the platform with little knowledge or experience of what it's like (such as yourself) are just as bad.

By karielash on 4/23/2012 1:18:07 PM , Rating: 3
The Windows phone is a refreshing change, the UI is indeed very slick and very fast, I have owned multiple Android phones (dropping an Android to get the new Windows phone) and the Lumia 900 is by far the best overall experience I have had to date with a smart phone.

That's not to say I now hate Android, but I think this particular iteration of Windows phone is the best on the market for the money at the this time. I am sure in two years when I look again things may have changed.

Most people in technology in this day and age rely on multiple platforms to get business done (I support an environment with at least a dozen different flavours of Unix Linux and Windows) and the phone is no exception. Screaming Fanboy any time anyone chooses something you personally do not like doesn't exactly enhance your argument.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 6:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
First off, I think there's a difference between fanboys and multi-platform users who like Windows Phone because of the superior UI.

Calling it "superior" just made you a fanboi lol :P

By ictia on 4/23/2012 12:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
the interview tells you that it's *not* microsoft's call as to whether or not a handset will get upgraded or not. does google tell you whether or not your samsung galaxy s2 (or brand x) will get ics ? as long as a handset meets the min sys req for wp8 (no one knows what this is), an upgrade is viable. anyway, it was the right thing to do to correct the statement as it presupposed all oem's will create an upgrade for their handsets ... actually, i think it was more of a language/translation problem than anything else as mr silva has noted in his blog. stop making a big deal out of this and find something of substance to talk about.

By Ramstark on 4/23/2012 12:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
Haters gonna hate right? Well, at least we (the so called MS fanboys, which we aren't as we criticize a lot of MS politic of delayed adventures...) get a phone that will receive updates, as the sources from another comment around here states, until 2016, instead of having a brick stuck with android 2.1 or be outdated every 6 months like, say what you like but MS support always is better than the others...

By sigmatau on 4/23/2012 1:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like you have drowned in your kool-aid and someone decided to resuscitate. Lucky us!

Isn't Android worse? I got a Samsung Galaxy S2 the week it came out in October (AT&T) and ICS came out about a month later. Fast forward 6 months, and still no ICS. Actually, I don't even know when I will be getting it.

This is much worse than what may or may not happen for the Lumia 900. My phone, even though it was released internationally months previously, is/was the flagship phone for only a month prior to ICS showing up. The Lumia will be at the very least 6 months old prior to getting its next OS if they do release it during the holidays and if they release it to WP7.5 phones.

I'd rather be in the Lumia scenario than the GS2 fiasco I am in now.

Who knows, maybe some day I will get ICS on my GS2 so it can stop rebooting 5 times a day because of its memory card bug.

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