Is there really a cause for concern?

With overwhelming evidence suggesting that there's to be no upgrade path in half a year for the Lumia 900 and other devices, there's a couple important questions to ask.

The first question is, of course, "Why?"

As we previously reported, 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.

The next question to ask is -- "Does it matter?"

That's a question that's dependent on a couple things -- first whether you're a hardcore mobile gamer, and second your pace of mobile upgrades.

While current generation Windows Phones' WVGA (800x480 pixel) screens and uni-core processors, may preclude them from Apollo, if you upgrade your phone every year, a year of Mango means you're at most missing out on a few months of Apollo.  On the other hand if you upgrade your phone on a two-year (or more) installment, you may come to regret not having Apollo.  But the problem here is that if you wait for Apollo you may come to regret buying it as well whenever Windows Phone 8.5/9 rolls along and Microsoft announces that Apollo won't be upgradable.

For those on a traditional 2 year upgrade cycle, I understand the decision may be a bit tougher.  I honestly would suggest if you're on the fence to wait on Windows Phone 8.  But on the flip side I do not expect Windows Phone 8 to be a major user interface upgrade.  I expect Windows Phone 8 to be a lot like Mango in terms of UI.  What I expect is that high-end gaming graphics support (via new multi-threading APIs, HLSL GPU shader support) will be added.  So hardcore gamers will likely be left out if they bought a Mango handset, but average users may not notice much of a difference.

The (somewhat) sad reality is that smartphones are in a period of rapid growth and there's far more buyer's remorse to be had with almost any smartphone than traditional PCs, given the rapidly expanding CPU core count/clock-speed, GPU-capabilities, screen resolution, and RAM.  Microsoft is hardly alone in shafting smartphone buyers.  

Many handsets running Android from Google Inc.'s (GOOG) face similar dead ends -- for example HTC Corp. (TPE:2498recently indicated that some of its devices will be stuck on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread".  While most of these devices -- like the EVO 4G were a year old or more, it's feasible that a customer could have bought them just before the successor device (e.g. EVO 3D) be came out and be stuck on Gingerbread for nearly a year.

Ironically, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) -- often viewed as one of the most restrictive and puritanical smartphone makers -- is perhaps the one maker that allows the largest backwards compatibility for older handsets in its operating system updates.  Typically at least two generations are supported -- for example the late fall launch of iOS 5 supported upgrades to even the aging iPhone 3GS.  But then again, this can be a double-edged sword -- Apple's rare "openness" has reportedly lead to frustratingly poor upgrade experiences for legacy device owners [example].

For now Mango provides a solid handset experience on par or better than Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or iOS 5, in my professional opinion.  Being stuck with Mango for a few extra months is not a horrible fate.

So why all the fuss?  Let's face it, Microsoft is, like Android was in 2009, a scrappy challenger with little market share and big ambitions.  That places it directly in the line of fire, and makes it a fun target for criticism.

Lumia 900 in Hand (3/6)
I'm dooommmeeeddd*!!!! (*Not really) (Click image to enlarge) [©: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

This quasi-issue is really only an issue that concerns Windows Phone prospective buyers.  My perspective is that it is a real concern, but it is not as serious a problem as some are making it out be.

Again, the only glaring concern I expect is game compatibility.  While the core experience in Mango is either something you can live with now and live with in October regardless of whether Apollo is out, it may be bothersome to Windows Phone users (including myself) if suddenly you can't download the hottest games, which are Apollo exclusive due to their demanding hardware requirements.  That said, most Android titles support both Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, and I expect a similar trend with Windows Phone, as adoption picks up.

In reality Microsoft's decision to not upgrade Mango handsets to Apollo is hardly shocking or unexpected.  That said, it is significant that this is being aired as it is something buyers will need to increasingly consider as October approaches.  For now it might not be enough cause to forgo a purchase, but come August or September, it might be.  Of course, Nokia, et al. will likely adjust pricing accordingly.

No upgrade path is cause for pause, but not cause for panic.  Again, I highly doubt there will be significant user interface overhaul in Apollo -- the biggest change will likely be in high-end gaming support.  And if you think that's biased, consider that many Ice Cream Sandwich handsets may never gain access to Android 5.0, if history is any lesson.  Make informed decisions, but don't let the mobile form of Moore's Law cripple your choice, be it Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.

Source: SuperSite for Windows

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki