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back to article Microsoft extends Windows Phone 8 support through 2015

Microsoft has extended the support life cycle of Windows Phone 8, and has promised to ship a new feature-update pack next year, in a bid to win more enterprise customers for its struggling smartphone OS. In a blog post on Wednesday, Windows Phone project manager Robert Hoover wrote that Redmond has decided to push the end-of- …

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Silver badge
Windows

Good move; but still too little, too late...

Why you may be wondering? It's not because I think badly about the whole Windows Phone line; to be honest I kind of like it (still using WP7.5 myself because I like my 8 medium sized tiles on screen (and the small arrow indicator) better than the new "either extra small or extra large tiles" kind of choice (which you get with the 7.8 update; at most you'll get 6.5 medium sized tiles on your screen unless you resort to using extra small tiles)).

Even so; although I think this is a good move it's still a bit too late. They should have been doing this with WP7 instead. Because most interested people & fans bought into that because of 3 main issues:

1) Support: Windows is supported for many years; so most buyers expected the same with Windows Phone.

2) As if #1 wasn't enough; Microsoft explicitly stated that dumping Windows Mobile 6.5 (the predecessor of WP7) was somewhat of a mistake which they wouldn't repeat.

3) If the previous points weren't enough: in addition to #2 Microsoft even started making specific demands to the hardware, convincing many people (yours truly included) that they were carefully aiming for the future.

Well, the results should be well known: WP7 got one (desperately needed) update to 7.5 and that was basically it. After that WP8 got announced and although Microsoft denied it many WP7(.5) users realized that as soon as 8 was out (which isn't downwards compatible; native WP8 applications do not run on WP7.x) it would also mean that support for WP7.x would rapidly decline. And it did.

Although I'm not complaining (I prepared myself too much for that) it basically resulted in me getting a "modern" smartphone, only to learn that it would be obsoleted within a year. NOT the kind of result I expected from a Microsoft product. And judging from several WP fora I don't stand alone in this.

SO yeah, this is a good move, but the previous ones have already cost Microsoft a lot of goodwill. Because the so called early adaptors of their product sort of felt being left in the cold. And I somewhat doubt that those guys would recommend a Windows Phone. Heck; even though I'm actually pretty happy with my WP7.5 (I don't like the 7.8 update) I wouldn't recommend a Windows Phone perse. Because if you get one then there's no telling how soon support will drop.

"No, you're wrong; WP8 is "an even better choice for business"" (quote from a marketing mail I got).

But like; that's what you said about Windows Phone 7 not much longer than a year ago as well, and look where we are now...

And although I'm not much of an Android fan (mainly because of Google, which I consider very intrusive) nor Apple you got to admit that they both provide much better upgrading scenarios. Even if you have an older phone there's nothing stopping you from installing a more modern OS.

Sure; it may not run as quickly as a phone with more modern specs, but the fact remains that if you buy a "top notch" model you may very well end up with a phone which can last for years (and with that I'm referring to years of continued support).

Microsoft had that exact same reputation, but didn't (couldn't?) live up to it. And now when the damage has already been done they're all of a sudden starting to extend support cycles and stuff.

As such my post title: too little, too late.

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Re: Good move; but still too little, too late...

@Shell_user Well, I was braced for an incoherent anti-MS, Google-rules-everything-else-rubbish rant, but what I got was one of the most thoughtful posts on WP that I've read for some time. Kudos.

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Bronze badge

Re: Good move; but still too little, too late...

I don't know what "Windows Phone" you got running 7, but my humble Lumia 710, bought for the purpose of seeing what WinPhone is like, has had 7.5, and 7.8 and has another update pending as soon as I get around to it - more than one - in fact I reckon I've had 5-6 updates now.

My Galaxy note 2 meanwhile... 2 updates thus far, neither of which have added new features as far as I can see (there is an update with new stuff but my carrier hasn't bothered to approve it).

I do sort of like Windows Phone, although 7.8 and 8 have removed a couple of minor things I really liked (for example apps list was alphabetical with letters to start them off, tap a letter, get an alphabet, tap the letter you want and jump to it... neat if you have loads of apps and faster than the scrolling approach everyone else uses (and now WinPhone has joined in...)

A minor feature, not a dealbreaker, but the sort of UI tweaks that make something more compelling to me as it makes it faster to use and I like "just getting on with it" (or JFDI as we call it)

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WTF?

WP 7.8/8 and Alphabet Shortcuts

" do sort of like Windows Phone, although 7.8 and 8 have removed a couple of minor things I really liked (for example apps list was alphabetical with letters to start them off, tap a letter, get an alphabet, tap the letter you want and jump to it... neat if you have loads of apps and faster than the scrolling approach everyone else uses (and now WinPhone has joined in...)"

I'm not sure why you think this has gone as our Lumia 800 and 710 running WP 7.8 as well as my new Lumia 8.20 running WP8 still offer this functionality.

But as with WP7.5, this feature only becomes available if the number of installed apps exceeds a certain threshold.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good move; but still too little, too late...

@Vince: "I do sort of like Windows Phone, although 7.8 and 8 have removed a couple of minor things I really liked (for example apps list was alphabetical with letters to start them off, tap a letter, get an alphabet, tap the letter you want and jump to it."

I don't think that was removed - I picked up a Nokia 521 last month, and I can tap a letter in the apps list to get an alphapet, and then jump straight to another letter.

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obsolete one year from now.

> which meant that every Windows Phone 8 device sold today would be effectively obsolete one year from now.

This extension of support does not change that. The specifications of top of the range phones change much more frequently than Microsoft updates its software. With WP7 they wrote it to run on a very small variety of SoCs and a very limited range of screen resolutions, when it was dumped it still only ran on those.

WP8 is also limited to certain SoCs and other devices and is further limited by OEMs being contrained to specific ones of those. As advances in this technology increases WP will be further left behind. Apple can build using whatever chips it wishes to because it can design, build and write code for them. Android can already run on more SoCs than any other phone OS. It may even be the reference for many chip makers.

Microsoft also tries to separate its markets. Would MS allow a tablet to be a phone ? While MS tries to make everyone believe there is one 'Windows 8' (even phones here are advertised as Windows 8 rather than WP8) the reality is that desktop/laptop Win8, WinRT and WP8 are completely different. For example 'Ubuntu for Phones' is the desktop OS running on an Android phone so that it can change personality depending on what it is connected to. Could Windows 8 and WP8 coexist on one device ? (one that could still fit in your pocket, or even your backpack?)

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Definitely obsolete?

To say that WinPho 8 devices will be obsolete is perhaps misleading as WinPho 9 (or whatever they call it) may run on existing phones.

WinPho 7 phones can't run WP8 but there was a significant change in specification which may not be the case going forward.

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Re: Definitely obsolete?

> WinPho 9 (or whatever they call it) may run on existing phones.

And you would base you purchasing decision based on that?

WM 6 - Hardware unable to be upgraded. apps incompatible with next version

WP 7 - Hardware unable to be upgraded. apps incompatible with next version

Kin - Hardware unable to be upgraded. apps incompatible with anything (as I understand)

WP8 - Will set a new precident?

Apple and Android both have app compatibility between OS versions.

Apple gerenally provides an upgrade to the next OS for its mobiles.

Android is open source, so things like cyanogen mod exist.

Blackberry used to have a similar approach to Apple, but seem to have lost the plot, along with their market. (But if Microsoft can get back to 5% of the market, perhapos they can too)

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Re: " there was a significant change in specificatio"

If Winphone continues to restrictively specify the design of new devices it has no future. Apple already captured the minority happy to all own the 'same' phone, the majority stampeded toward the 'fragmented' world of Android.

Microsoft really got this wrong, avoiding fragmented hardware only sounds good in business meetings but it's not what the buying public actually want... the share of the public not already tied to Apple that is. MS aren't ever going to shift enough iOS users to WP and have contracts with Apple preventing them copying the look&feel of iOS to ensure it.

Quite how MS managed to build an OS unable to cope with varied hardware is hard to understand, device abstractions and wide driver support is what created their desktop OS success. Seems certain it was a deliberate decision, I'd guess driven by Apples success when they started work on Winphone and the endless fountain of PR castigating Android fragmentation strongly suggests they've always wrongly believed it was a crucial sales feature.

The problem is they completely forgot to check with the market, a market with thousands of different devices before smartphones rose and with a thriving customisation aftermarket even on locked down iPhones. Most buyers want variation, even if only cosmetic and Microsoft went out of their way to not offer that. Huge mistake when you're this late to a market.

The end result is a engineering mindset at Microsoft that means they aren't building each version of WP with the flexibility to deal with off-spec hardware. I don't believe that attitude will change in time to make WP9 support WP8 spec hardware, they need to acknowledge a central part of the sales plan is wrong and Microsoft haven't yet accepted they need change to rescue the products.

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Meh

Not really good news

The extension of Windows Phone 8 support probably just means that Windows Phone 9 will come later.

It is very likely that the current devices can be upgraded to Windows Phone 9, so a longer support for Windows Phone 8, is not forcibly good news.

It would be nice, if Microsoft or Nokia would get their act together and give some official statement about future support for current WP8 hardware, however. Given Microsoft's past performance regarding OS updates for Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 devices and the lack of software compatibility between OS revisions, a clear statement would be in order to safe the platform.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not really good news

The extension of Windows Phone 8 support probably just means that Windows Phone 9 will come later.

And we're all still waiting for dBase V.

It would be nice, if Microsoft or Nokia would get their act together

Think about it and you'll realise that these things cannot both happen.

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Funny

With the speed they're updating the OS(or in their case, making it usable), the support should last for at least 10 years.

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Mushroom

Re: Funny

"With the speed they're updating the OS(or in their case, making it usable), the support should last for at least 10 years."

Why would you want to keep a mobile longer than 2 years? Once your contract is over, bin it, get the latest and greatest. Rinse and Repeat....No need for any handset to be supported longer than 2 years past end of general availability.

Saying that though, Windows Phone generally has had a much longer life / more updates than Android handsets.

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Re: Funny

I don't burden myself with contracts.

Before that, I used N95 (sometimes along with a WM5 PDA) for 5 years and had no reason to succumb to the touchscreen infestation.

The difference between Android and Windows Phone is that WP needs patches/updates to get a lot of very basic functions (some of which will probably never be implemented).

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Updates coming through too slowly

If you look at early Android the updates were pretty frequent although in fairness it needed them as it was quite basic early on. WP8 may not be as bad as that but it is still missing a lot of things that could be pulled in through updates such as a better keyboard and better multitasking. Unfortunately they're updating it as slowly as the desktop OS with big patches once a year. By the time they decide to push out an update the chances are that a manufacturer won't be updating it any more.

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Hello?

Is anybody in corporate space really listening to this and seriously considering WP for their company? A lot of CIOs have been burned very badly by sticking with Microsoft in the last few years. BlackBerry is back in the game and pushing updates thick and fast and in the meantime both IOS and Android have increasingly good offerings for corporates.

Yes, I know I'm slagging MS off but as Shelluser points out their form in this space has been dreadful in the last three years.

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