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back to article Waiting for a Windows Phone update? Let's talk again next year

Windows Phone owners must wait until next spring for a major platform update, latest reports appear to confirm. The platform has shown strong growth in 2013, almost entirely thanks to a concerted campaign by Nokia and almost entirely at the expense of BlackBerry. But the upsurge in momentum hasn't obliged Microsoft to break a …

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Bit unfair

It's not as if Microsoft has thousands of programmers that could contribute to developing anything quite as complicated as a universal search or notification centre. These small start ups like Microsoft are going to struggle with all this negativity levelled at them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bit unfair

Yes, because that's how software companies work, the employ enough people hanging around doing nothing to instantly develop anything they need.

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As a windows phone user (stuck on 7.5 because of Orange) I hope they don't create a brand new notification centre. The current ME Live Tile already acts as a notification centre for social media, they just need to add another screen for system/app notifications within that tile otherwise they are moving away from the simplicity of the OS which is one of its main positives.

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You're stuck on 7.5 because of Microsoft. No WP7 phones were ever, nor will ever, be officially updated to WP8. This after telling everyone how Windows Phone will have smooth reliable updates, unlike that Google thing. It's a rather huge "compatibility glitch" that the author seems to have glossed over.

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Headmaster

Correction:

He is stuck on 7.5 because of Orange, if it weren't for them he'd be on 7.8. Do watch the versioning on these things, it'll catch you out.

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Re: Correction:

Oops.

Well I guess if the differences are like going from a certain robot OS' 2.1 to 2.2 or 2.3 then he's not missing a great deal.

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Boffin

Stuck on WP 7.x

I suspect the OEMs weren't willing to put in the effort - if it was even possible - to bring up WP8 on their old hardware.

Windows CE does not have a standard boot loader. It is up to the OEM to write their own boot loader, which calls directly into the OS 'Startup' function once it has located the image to run. The kernel is mostly supplied as shared source code and Platform Builder will build your code and link it to produce an image. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa446905.aspx for details (that's CE 5.0 rather than 6.0 but it's much the same on 6.0 and later versions). Dealing with interrupts, timers, power management and other basic hardware resources is a job for the OEM Adaptation Layer, often written by the processor manufacturer (as a Board Support Package) but the OEM can customize it. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee479387(v=winembedded.60).aspx

The Windows 8 kernel expects to run in a PC-like environment. For ARM devices, it uses UEFI to boot and ACPI to describe the system hardware in a way that Windows can use to configure itself to the system. I can't find anything explicitly saying that this is how Windows Phone 8 does it, but the intro for Windows RT is here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/09/building-windows-for-the-arm-processor-architecture.aspx .

I can easily imagine that the UEFI and ACPI implementation is larger than the space available for the CE boot loader. It's likely that the various hardware in the device doesn't conform to the Windows-on-ARM models that would allow generic function drivers supplied by MS to be used, meaning that the OEM would have to write new drivers (the driver models are completely incompatible). It's a vast amount of effort that would mostly be wasted if new devices conformed to the Windows-on-ARM hardware model, and probably running a huge risk of bricking the old phones even if it could be achieved.

I can't see this happening again: I think it is very unlikely that any technical changes will now obsolete Windows Phone 8 hardware. The kernel is the same as on the desktop, the server and on Windows RT devices, and it boots and talks to hardware in the same way. Microsoft don't have a third kernel stream to use (excepting research projects like Singularity, or the .NET Micro Framework which is smaller still than CE). There's a much clearer and cleaner demarcation between MS-supplied code and OEM-supplied. The runtime is the same as the full .NET Framework, with the server pieces removed but otherwise the same.

The main programming difference between Windows Store for desktop/tablet and Windows Phone apps is that Windows Phone Runtime (WinPRT) still wraps up the Silverlight/WP7 UI controls, rather than using the UI controls developed for Windows Runtime. Windows Phone 8.1 'Blue' is basically held up waiting for that. My suspicion is that the Windows Phone 8 SDK was so late because they were trying to get it done for WP8, but couldn't make it work in the space/speed/time available and cut it at the last minute. There's not much point investing heavily in the apps with a shifting base underneath - or maybe all the changes to the apps were already done for proper-WinRT-on-WP and thus can't readily be back-ported to the old UI components?

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Re: Stuck on WP 7.x

> I suspect the OEMs weren't willing to put in the effort - if it was even possible - to bring up WP8 on their old hardware.

It wasn't possible. Microsoft developed WP7 for a small range of specific SoCs, all single core because that was all CE could support. WP8 was developed for a completely different set of dual core SoCs, WP8 requires dual core.

As only binary is delivered to the OEMs for certain essential parts of the system they cannot change it to use WP7 SoCs nor to more modern or better SoCs. They are stuck with what MS dictates while other makers bring out newer/better/cheaper devices.

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h3
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What I want to know is when Google kills exchange activesync support will the update be available for 7.8 or not.

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Shameful Koolaid Drinker

I love Windows Phone (but then I love most things MS); but it's such a frustrating experience seeing Nokia et al pushing forward with fantastic developments...only to be held back by Microsoft. They need to step up and start treating it seriously - stop thinking of the phone platform as the poor relation and start devoting more resources to it - that's the only way it will ever threaten the bigger players. We need more features (done properly) and some much needed TLC for the ecosystem, or people will start to leave.

It's such a shame because it could be so much *better*.

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Re: Shameful Koolaid Drinker

One of the other websites reported a Nokia worker as saying that Microsoft was too corporate in their approach and that the WP8 release schedule was worked around the corporate calender. Hence why WP8.1 will be released Spring 2014 so that it conincides with the end of the tax year which is when most departments go crazy spending the last of their budget (the old mantra is that any unpsent budget was a sign you didn't need it and your budget would be permenantly reduced).

That member of staff also pointed out they were trying to get Microsoft to understand the consumer market doesn't work that way and OEMs like Nokia need the updates on a more regular basis.

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Re: Shameful Koolaid Drinker

Exactly this. Nokia can make all kinds of weird and wonderful phones, as their days with Symbian ably demonstrated. Microsoft needs to give Nokia more free reign to do more than just boring black rectangles.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shameful Koolaid Drinker

That's why I sold my Nokia 920 and got a HTC One. Sick to death of the snail pace of development with Windows Phone.

It's 2013 and you still can't lock the screen orientation in WP8.

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Re: Shameful Koolaid Drinker

I do hear you and the HTC One is my fav phone out at the moment, if I hadn't got the L920 that would be what I was rocking (Google edition ofc)

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JLV
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Facepalm

Re: Shameful Koolaid Drinker

It's all rather odd...

First they screw over world & dog on Windows 8 desktop with Metro in the name of phone-ness & touchy-feely.

Not that I agree with it, but the intent was clearly to prime Joe Average to love W8 phone by being exposed to it on PCs first. Might be a flawed strategy, but it did look like a strategy.

Then they can't be arsed to keep the phone platform which "justified" all that pain up to date.

What are they thinking in Redmond?

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry but I'll probably never have anything to do with it

After the spying revelations there is no way I would have an Ms mobile nor an Ios mobile. I currently run android, but rooted and with all Google applications removed and everything else firewalled and with permissions denied, and I'm not even happy with that.

This is the very least I can do to demonstrate my anger at the totalarian, police-state way the world would appear to be going, and I will no longer support those companies who willingly go along with accommodating this.

I've been a serious tech-head for over 35 years now but I'm increasingly becoming a luddite and that really saddens me, but what saddens me most is the thoughts of a future where my children have no rights to privacy or dissent/opposing views at all.

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hmm...

Your paranoia isn't unfounded by I don't think it's really fair to blame the companies.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't MS, Facebook, Google, et all required by law to hand over anything the government asks for, and aren't their mouths zipped by law that prevents them from saying anything about it.

I'm sure all these companies don't want to "willfully go along with accommodating" the NSA's snooping, but the current situation is the worst example of a police state where companies are legally obliged to do these things yet can't legally tell anyone about it. They gain nothing from working with the NSA and it's not like they can say no, they simply don't have a choice.

The real scandal here is how successive American governments have managed to terrify the American people in to handing over their civil liberties one by one, thus allowing this shady backdoor intelligence operation to exist in the first place and affect us all - all in the name of the "War On Terror".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry but I'll probably never have anything to do with it

"After the spying revelations there is no way I would have an Ms mobile nor an Ios mobile. I currently run android, but rooted and with all Google applications removed and everything else firewalled and with permissions denied, and I'm not even happy with that."

Actually both IOS and especially Windows Phone are miles more secure than Android - regardless of what you have installed. See http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/02/fbi-can-remotely-activate-android-smartphone-and-laptop-mics-wsj-reports/

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Childcatcher

Re: hmm...

...I don't think it's really fair to blame the companies...all required by law to hand over anything the government asks for...

This implies that this is the only invasion of privacy and that these same companies do not and would not do gather all that data on their own. However, every one of them do, though for different purposes. We should not become so focused on one perceived threat to our civil liberties that we lose them to another along the way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry but I'll probably never have anything to do with it

"Actually both IOS and especially Windows Phone are miles more secure than Android - regardless of what you have installed."

Except that it is entirely dependent on what you have installed. They are simply fooling users into installing trojans just like any other malware.

"The tools used to gather the data are often installed remotely, using essentially phishing style links that injects essentially Trojan software when clicked by a suspect under surveillance."

Tech Crunch also haven't done their research:

"In theory, the devices could even be activated to eavesdrop on an in-person conversation with a potential suspect who doesn’t even own an Android device"

This is utter rubbish, yes malware can activate the microphone and record locally "heard" audio, but the call stream is processed purely in hardware and there is no way for software, malware or otherwise to record both sides of the conversation. I'm not even sure apps can activate the mic while a call is in progress, but I don't want to make guesses.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry but I'll probably never have anything to do with it

"They are simply fooling users into installing trojans just like any other malware."

More likely they are simply rooting it just by visiting a website. Android is Linux based so there are lots of vulnerabilities to target - Android has previously had such holes, and i'm sure the NSA can easily find more.

Windows Phone 8 has a secure boot model with a chain of trust and signed everything - in which no holes have as yet been found. Therefore you cant install anything unless Microsoft say so...Whilst that's less flexible, it is at least very secure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hmm...

In many cases, such as a certain email host has demonstrated recently, they may indeed be very unwilling to violate their principles and go so far as to close down voluntarily. However, the NSA are actually PAYING many of these companies to hand over data which is no doubt assuaging their 'consciences'.

Another thing to consider is this, if the big companies, i.e. Google/Facebook/Microsoft/Apple/et al, all flat out refused to cooperate say like the anti-Sopa blackout, just what could the US government do ? Are they going to shut them down, arrest Sergey, Balmer and Zuckerberg ? Somehow I don't think so. These companies have serious power by virtue of their size and how embedded they are, they have the choice to put up a serious fight and they've all rolled over willingly. They utterly disgust me.

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Windows

Nokia Lumia 620 ...

My work recently issued one of these to replace my HTC Trophy ... and must say, it's actually quite good. Something very crisp and sleek about it, compared to the wifes HTC Wildfire.

Was impressed that there are a few more apps than with WP7 too.

My prediction - one to watch.

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Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

I'm sure any smartphone released in 2013 will compare favourably to one released in 2010.

Try comparing that Nokia to a Galaxy S4.

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Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

...especially was the 2010 phone was at the budget end of midrange at launch!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

I have done, with a Nokia 820, at least. They're both pretty good strong in some areas, weaker in others.

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Stop

Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

It wasn't the phones performance I like ... I was just saying that WP8 is pretty good that's all. I can see it gaining ground.

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Stop

Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

Hardly a reasonable comparison, given that the 620 costs £150 off contract.

Compared to an Android phone that costs £150, it's a miracle.

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Holmes

@ Irongut - Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

I've just compared my brother's 2013 Ford Mondeo to a 2013 Bentley Continental. The Bentley came out like the Galaxy S4 to the Lumia 620: A much nicer car, just like a much nicer phone.

They both get me from Reading to Maidenhead though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

LOL, comparing a 2013 Lumia with a 2011 Froyo Android phone..

However on a level playing field, try comparing an entry level Android Jellybean phone with a entry level Windows Phone, and it's not so rosy....

Say an Sony Xpera E, Galaxy Ace 3, Acer Liquid Z3, Xperia SP etc.

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Anonymous Coward

basics

Will this update allow a WP owner to set a user defined custom sound for SMS alert, new email, or alarm tones? As the other WPs don't and for me this is a very basic necessity so that my phone sounds like my phone.

Suspect not.

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Re: basics

WP8 already supports some of this.

Text or IM use the same sound, but you can separately specify sound for voicemail alert, and new email.

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Re: basics

Windows Phone 8 - copy any custom ringtones to the ringtones folder on your phone, as long as the file is 30MB or smaller and isn't protected by DRM then you can use it as your ringtone/alert/alarm call. That was easy!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: basics

WP = iOS - 3 years.

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Re: basics

You can do all of these already.

I do, anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: basics

Doesn't the Windows Phone app for Desktop allow that ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: basics

Custom sms and email alarms are a basic necessity? I think that's a bit hyperbolous.

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Re: basics

There's an easy answer: don't use audible alerts.

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Joke

Platform switch

"Microsoft did a remarkable job of switching platforms last year without anybody really noticing"

So they managed to do it without either of their users noticing?

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Re: Platform switch

12 to 20% market share for Windows Mobile (depending on where you look). 3 to 5% market share for Windows Phone. Certainly remarkable, but not something most people boast about.

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Re: Platform switch

I think the market is somewhat larger these days.

You know, to the tune of several orders of magnitude larger.

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Re: Platform switch

> "Microsoft did a remarkable job of switching platforms last year without anybody really noticing"

The WP7 users will never notice because they will never get WP8, they were abandoned.

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Re: Platform switch

Actually WP7 users are still getting security patches and updates. That is a lot more than the average Fragmentdroid user gets. There Updates (if they arrive at all) stop as soon as the next generation is out.

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Good to know

That at least one company put some effort in to optimising the underlying code to get decent performance from low spec chippery. Google could take a lesson or two there - their engineers are easily good enough - but I guess optimisation isn't as much fun as new bells and whistles. Why do we need quad core 1.5Ghz SoC to run a phone at a decent speed?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good to know

I think part of the reason for this is the phone doesn't do as much. The multi-tasking is limited, there's less functionality.

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Re: Good to know

You don't. I have a phone with a 1GHz CPU and 768MB RAM that runs smoothly with Android 4 on it. I have a dual-core phone that runs smoother than a quad-core phone (Tegra 3 really is awful...) but I won't deny that Android had laggy performance for a long time. That has been rectified now and not just with better hardware.

On topic I see that Microsoft have failed to grasp the obvious yet again. Updates are coming along far too slowly and far too infrequently for them to make any gains. I almost feel sorry for Nokia because no matter what hardware they manage to produce they're stuck relying on Microsoft to do their part.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good to know

"Why do we need quad core 1.5Ghz SoC to run a phone at a decent speed?"

Not necessarily, but if anything its because android is much more general purpose and feature rich, by design. More like a cross between a windows phone and desktop OS's. This is the reason windows phone has not taken off - it has prioritized a superficial polish over functionality and multitasking, for example. Does it really matter when the phones all cost in the same range with similar battery life what sort of processor? Also, because any OEM can customize android, the performance varies wildly.

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single kernel

I was under the impression that in moving to a single kernel, Windows 8 and phone apps were supposed to be the same.

I was a bit surprised when we developed a Windows 8 app, and then found we had to rebuild some aspects of it for Windows Phone, and put it on a different store (which has as a separate sign up fee).

Admittedly it wasn't as bad as developing two different apps, but it's still not quite the same as a single app and single store for all windows devices.

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Re: single kernel

The kernel doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how the user apps are developed. It only allows windows phone to support things like multi-processor, maybe more hardware devices, and makes the windows kernel more like the linux kernel, which has already been running on arm for years (not to mention mips and others). Just like in android, you don't have the same APIs (Java) as in desktop linux,(C/GTK/Qt), yet the kernels are the same.

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Coat

Three incompatible GUIs

So they should be!

It's insanity to try and have the same GUI for a pocket device, a tablet/pad sized device and greater than 11" approx screen with keyboard and mouse.

Mines got a tablet holder and laptop backpack. The phone is in my jeans of course, what else would the bulge be?

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