It came as quite a surprise when Microsoft developer and self-styled Windows Phone evangelist Nuno Silva gave the impression in a blog post on Wednesday that Windows Phone 7 (aka Mango) handsets would be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8 (aka Apollo). For a few brief moments it seemed that Microsoft had finally overcome what I consider one of its operating system’s greatest drawbacks—no foreseeable upgrade path—offering those that have purchased the Nokia Lumia 900 or other such WP7 devices hope for the future.
But there was no hope to be had, as yesterday Silva retracted his ambiguous claim on his blog, stating that he was only trying to echo the same sort of language coming from Microsoft itself; language that pertained to how apps will operate on later iterations of Windows Phone operating systems that Silva mistakenly thought referred to device upgradability as well.
That said, while the faithful will still no doubt hope that Silva is actually right about future upgradability, the general consensus is that no such path will exist, meaning that when Microsoft does end up releasing Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) it still looks like all those who have purchased a WP7 device will simply be out of luck.
Traditionally OS providers like Google and Apple have gone out of their way to make sure that new iterations of their respective operating systems work on at least the previous generation of handsets, but analysts are predicting that Microsoft will break suit, as the prevailing opinion is that Apollo will be such a substantial upgrade on Mango that the handsets programmed for the latter simply won’t be able to handle what the former can dish out.
For its part, Microsoft itself has remained tight-lipped about almost everything related to the interaction between Mango and the upcoming Apollo versions of its Windows Phone operating system. In fact, the company has refused to confirm or deny anything that Silva wrote this week, stating only what it had made clear before, that apps programmed for Mango will work on Apollo devices.
“We have stated publicly that all apps in our marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases,” the PC giant said in a statement yesterday, vague enough to give credence to both those hoping for an upgrade path and those doubting that one can even exist.
In regards to the latter, most analysts consider an upgrade path from Mango to Apollo to be all but impossible, as CNET writer Lance Whitney explains, “Windows Phone 7 currently supports only single-core processors and WVGA screens. But reports claim that Microsoft will move to dual-core chips and higher-resolution screens in the next version, leaving current devices unable to handle Apollo’s higher-end requirements.”
The reality is, however, that whether or not an upgradeability path exists it doesn’t seem to be hurting sales of WP7 handsets like the Lumia 900, as AT&T reportedly briefly ran out of stock earlier this week as users desperate for an mobile alternative to Apple or Android—users I would wager who are largely unaware of just how useless their phone will be once WP8 goes live—continue to clamour to get their hands on one.