Windows Phone 8 won't be available on anything out today, but that's okay, right?

Microsoft revealed its plans for the next generation of Windows Phone on Wednesday, which includes broadening hardware support, revising the user interface, and adding a couple of new features that bring Windows Phone up to speed with the Android platform.

Unfortunately, though, no current Windows Phone devices will receive an upgrade to the new operating system. Instead, they will receive the graphical overhaul of the new Start screen in a sub-update called "Windows Phone 7.8."

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Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said:

"Some of you have been wondering, 'Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?' The answer, unfortunately, is no. Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update."

Some in the media have already called it "fragmentation," and some have made cracks that the "smartphone beta test" is still going on, referring to Nokia's Lumia advertising campaign.

This clear line in the sand between generations should already be familiar to anyone who has followed Microsoft's transition from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone. Two years ago, when Windows Phone 7 debuted no Windows Mobile 6.5 devices were eligible for upgrade, effectively halting any incentive for consumers to purchase a Windows Mobile device when the next version was just around the corner.

But that was a different affair. Windows Mobile was an operating system that spanned more than just phones, and that is why the "Windows Phone" brand was created three years ago. When Microsoft changed its phones from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone, it was truly a shift in focus.

Windows Mobile 6.5 never went away, and still lives on today as Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, an operating system for rugged terminals, handheld computers, and traditional tablet computers. Just yesterday, in fact, Juniper Systems announced its Mesa Rugged Notepad (pictured above) was upgrading to Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.

It is unclear at this point whether the generational shift Belfiore mentioned today is about the next-gen hardware in Windows Phone 8 (multi-core processors, NFC chips, different screen resolutions), or if it's about the convergence of Windows Phone with Windows which will effect developers when the next SDK is released later this Summer.

Windows Phone 8 will have native C and C++ support, and support for gaming middleware like the Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, and also native DirectX-based game development. The Windows Phone 8 SDK, and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools will unlock all of these capabilities.

Furthermore, Belfiore said the Windows Phone team is working to create a program for "registered enthusiasts," that will give them early access to the Windows Phone 8 update prior to broad availability, irrespective of carrier obligations. We reached out to Microsoft to find out more about this program, because we are as curious about that as you are, but company reps couldn't divulge anything further today.

We'll be on the lookout...

51 Responses to Windows Phone 8 won't be available on anything out today, but that's okay, right?

  1. ToeKneeC67 says:

    It is a bummer - but it is what it is.  If you want to compare to Android - almost every review says the Samsung Galaxy III is now king and puts all but the HTC One as obsolete (even if you force ICS 4 onto it).  This is that year, the year, all players are saying this is the line.

    Cool about the new Start Screen - as that will be huge to 7.5 users.  Also cool that Apps bought now work on WP8 (unlike 6.5 to 7).

    • TechnologyRules says:

       Except the next iPhone has been slated to "put the s3 to shame"...!

      and we all know you can take that to the bank!

      • mshulman says:

        And another phone released 6 months later will put the next iphone to shame and so on and so forth.

        Every new release offers something over a previous one.  Nothing new here.  The day a phone is released until the day another new phone is released is the window where your phone is "current" and after that, its obsolete.

  2. bourgeoisdude says:

    I'm personally okay with it. I'm stuck with my HTC Trophy contract for another year or so anyway. Happy to be getting 7.8.

  3. MMurcek says:

    If you just got an expensive top end Nokia, you have to be PO'd by this, but at the other end of the spectrum, my contract is up in November (got my Focus in 2010 when WP7 debuted) and a new phone will be a painless proposition for me.  At this point, I want the second camera and the only way I get it is with a new phone.  Also, regardless of what anybody claims, I'm willing to bet the user experience of WP8 on an older, slower single core CPU may not be so satisfactory.

    • bourgeoisdude says:

      Can't really disagree that Nokia 900 owners aren't going to be happy campers, but they will still receive 18 months of support for upgrades so it's not like they're hanging out to dry. Once we find out exactly what Windows Phone 7.8 has to offer we may be pleasantly surprised.

      • mshulman says:

        I own a Lumia 900.  While I'd love it if it could be upgraded, I'm not upset that it can't.

        People will point to Apple and say how all their phones are upgradable.  But how well did IOS 4 run on an iPhone 3G?  Not well.  It forced me to ugprade.  

        Upgrades are also not just about the software, but the hardware and that's where WP8 will have some decent improvements.

        I'm happy waiting until I'm due for an upgrade or if something sooo much better comes out, perhaps I'll just pay the full price and get it.

    • Tenoq says:

       Not necessarily.  If you've previously owned expensive Nokias, you're already used to poor software upgrades and support.  At least this time you've got a stable OS to start, not the POS that was Symbian (flexible, but as stable as a fish doing a handstand on a swing). 

    • Iain Simpson says:

      like I said above I have a 900 on contract and an 800 I paid retail, this news does not bother me in the least and im happy to see MS push the limits and get these new and better devices on the market. WP7.5 is an excellent OS for the devices that have been made so far and im happy that newer and better devices are coming soon.

  4. MMurcek says:

    And other than the 4G showing in some of the screen shots, I heard / read NOTHING about LTE.  Is it just a given at this point and we should not expect otherwise?

  5. BrandonMills says:

    Got my Mom a Lumia 900, but I'm not too upset about this.

    I got $100 extra back from 'glitch' on launch. Glitch was already fixed by the time Mom got her phone. I'm factoring that into the price difference when upgrading.

    Mom mainly uses core apps. I even bought her a bunch of apps to use when I got her the phone, but she's still mainly locked into core apps. This might not be as big of an issue for her.

    Nokia is obviously going to keep updating their apps. Since Nokia apps are among some of the best currently out there for Windows Phone, not much has changed. 

    The main upgrade needed is for the phone to act more like Windows 8, which is an update that is actually shipping. I guess we'll have to see how many apps are made that are backwards compatible with older phones. 

    If Metro does well and the Windows 8 app library starts filling up with applications that she'd need, then I'd consider replacing the phone out of contract perhaps a year in. That would be kinda shitty, but I guess I'll have to wait and see just how different the application offering is at that time.

  6. skruis says:

    "It is unclear at this point whether the generational shift Belfiore mentioned today is about the next-gen hardware in Windows Phone 8 (multi-core processors, NFC chips, different screen resolutions), or if it's about the convergence of Windows Phone with Windows which will effect developers when the next SDK is released later this Summer."

    All of the above ;-)

    • MMurcek says:

      Yes, I think looking back in a couple years (an eternity in technology) 2012 will be remembered as the year that the foundation for a big shift - not only in the Windows ecosystem - emerged.

    • MMurcek says:

      Yes, I think looking back in a couple years (an eternity in technology) 2012 will be remembered as the year that the foundation for a big shift - not only in the Windows ecosystem - emerged.

  7. Iain Simpson says:

    Yes that is completely fine by me. I have a Lumia 800 and a Lumia 900. I think all the techie bunch need to stop whining about not getting WP8, you will be getting an updated UI on existing devices. Nokia Owners will be getting a bunch more apps and you don't know if there will be further updates after 7.8. Most of the general public really don't know or couldn't give a crap if there were a new update for their phone. The Phones sold today and in the last year run exceptional with what software and hardware they have and you will get  a further update very soon in 7,8. If you have a 2 year or a 3 year contract like we have in Canada just go pay retail for a WP8 device and put your contract sim in the new phone, as you paid next to nothing for the original phone, All I can say is just stop whining. I will not drop Windows Phone because of this change and im very happy that they are making this change. I will just buy a retail phone when they are available and use it on my 3 year contract.

    • woe says:

       Hi Lain,

      My name is Steve and I work for the Microsoft Swamp Land Reclamation (MSLR) division and we are looking for "FAN GIRLS" to purchase some land.  Your Beta News profile makes you a perfect candidate.

      Please type in your credit card info below to get the process started ASAP!

      • MMurcek says:

        What do you get, woe? A middle finger in the eye from liiiiiiiiinus?

      • Iain Simpson says:

        woe your such an idiot and you just make yourself look more stupid with each post you make. I will not reply to anymore of your posts. Take your apple or google crap and rub it on your nuts or something and get some pleasure out of life instead of just being a troll.

      • Juan says:

        You're so troll

    • TechnologyRules says:

       "Most of the general public really don't know or couldn't give a crap if there were a new update for their phone."

      Umm, say that to the 70%-80% of iPhone users who enjoy the latest version update!

  8. Sparxx2k7 says:

    Not a WPx user, but if I were, I can say that initially I would be upset:  pay x-amount for a phone only to realize support has been cut off as far as new updates.  However, the flip side would be that by the time WP8 is available for mobile phones, my contract would near expiring, up for renew, so I would upgrade to a new phone anyway.

    • TroyGates says:

       How many Android phones bought just before ICS was announced have been upgraded? Very few. This isn't much difference, oh wait it is. Microsoft will be releasing 7.8 for all existing phones which will have most of 8s features minus the ones shown yesterday.

      • TechnologyRules says:

        "How many Android phones bought just before ICS was announced have been upgraded?"
        ...So does that make it the right thing to do?

         "which will have most of 8s features"

        ...and which features are these?

  9. Corey Tre' Spearman says:

    Wow...it's ok. I guess I'm not a nice person because I think it sucks. But at least MS isn't lying to you. Unlike a lot us Android users who feel a little mislead that our devices have yet to get ICS. 

  10. Tenoq says:

     Anyone else notice Microsoft have come full circle in the mobile area, in just a couple of years?

    Windows Mobile (6.5 and its predecessors) was just a cut down version of Windows designed to run on mobiles.  It sorta worked, and sorta didn't.  Then came along WP7, a complete rewrite from the ground up for a mobile phone platform designed specifically for phones - and very successful UI upgrade.

    Now we're talking about WP8, which includes the core features of Windows 8 - ie, back to a cut-down version of Windows.  The only difference is this time it looks awesome, whereas Windows Mobile looked like garbage. 

  11. terminalx says:

    I wish bloggers would research first...before spreading this. According to Nokia the 7.8 update will include wp8 features not just the start screen. The features missing would be hardware related (dual core, NFC, etcetc) lets wait until they announce what features are moving before we bury windows phone 7.

    • woe says:

       Lipstick on a pig.  The phone wont even be a year old but its dead in the water.  New Apps will come out for WP8 and the focus will be there.  They may get ported back to the 7.x crowd....maybe.

      • Adas Weber says:

        It's not dead in the water because it will still be updated. What's the point in adding support for hardware features that don't exist in a phone? There is no point! That means that Lumia users won't really be losing out because the bits of WP8 that are relevant to older phones will be available on older phones, such as the new Start screen - which BTW I think is an excellent improvement.

        The only point on which I agree with you is the possibility of developers creating new apps for WP8 exclusively, without support for WP7. Some of the bigger new games will probably not be available for the older phone. But many of the tools and utility apps will continue to be developed for WP7 because they will run on WP8 and even these WP7 apps will automatically benefit from the advantages of WP8 such as faster loading times.

        Potentially this might drive the price of the Lumia phones down a bit - which for me will be a good thing because I still intend to buy a Lumia 900, since the updates in WP7.8 will give me some WP8 features within the capability of the WP7 hardware.

      • TroyGates says:

         @betanews-22b29bedd9bb2e315384e250d0a52d33:disqus Its already been stated to be the other way around. WP apps will continue to be developed for 7.8 and 8. When an app is submitted to the developers app hub the xap file will be automatically setup for both 7.8 and 8. So it doesn't require the developer to do anything. The only exceptions are apps that are native code. When an end user goes into the marketplace they will get the appropriate version automatically.

        Microsoft has a big advantage here, they have the best developer tools and can ease the transition much better than other companies can.

      • TechnologyRules says:

         @TroyGates:disqus

        Stated by whom, exactly?

      • TroyGates says:

         @TechnologyRules:disqus By Microsoft. I don't have the link handy, but when I have a chance I'll find it for you.

    • TechnologyRules says:

       are you able to expand on that hardware related feature list beyond dual core and nfc?

      Im trying to say that those two reason should not be the reason why MS decided to pull the plug on pushing 8 to existing devices.

      For MS to justify abandoning their earliest adopters they better have virtual roadblocks and hazard zones to back it up... because otherwise...

      MS just gave Lumia owners the bird!

  12. woe says:

    This Time For SURE!!!!!!

    This will FINALLY make Microsoft a contender in the mobile space! Just
    you wait! Windows Phone 7? Just a dry-run! Windows Phone 7.5? A mere
    teaser of things to come! The Nokia Lumia phones? Nothing but a
    distraction for the naysayers while Microsoft was cooking up the REAL
    deal! And finally, at last, here it is! So you can say goodbye to all
    that previous crap, 'cos this here is what's REALLY going to make the
    Apples and the Androids sit up and take notice! Just you wait! 

    • TroyGates says:

       Are you complaining that Microsoft is constantly improving on their product? Why are you against a product getting better? Are you threatened by WP being a good product?

  13. Some Windows Phone 8 features seem to have a dependency on hardware. 7.8 is a distillation of those features that CAN be ported over to current hardware. If your phone doesn't have the enabling hardware, the software won't be useful. This path makes sense to me. I'd love to have it on my humble HTC Radar 4G.

    • Awerg says:

      The only people that don't seem to understand this are people with very little technological intelligence.  There is nothing that can be done to help them understand wnad they will contiue to live in their ignorance and spew troll poop out of their mouths.

    • TechnologyRules says:

       According to what you are saying, the only inexplicable thing left is how Apple managed to keep the 3GS running newer apps using old hardware.

      • I'm mainly talking about NFC and such hardware. Does it make sense to have such features in the software if you don't have the NFC hardware? Now, Windows Phone 8 is a new generation down to the kernel which can take advantage of more processing resources (dual-core, etc). This will be required for better capabilities moving forward. They were pushing it with the CE kernel. They needed the jump, that's what they did here. You don't often design for backwards compatibility as the main requirement. You want to give yourself more room to enable future features.

  14. smist08 says:

    Well I guess that should kill all Nokia phone sales for the next few months (until after XMas perhaps). I kinda doubt that Nokia can stay out of bankruptcy now, serves them right.

    • skruis says:

      There's probably some sort of financial assistance planned from MS to prop them up if needed.  MS can't really afford to let Nokia fail and on top of that, I'm sure Nokia was aware of the path that WP8 was taking.  Actually, they probably helped to guide it.  That being said, for those average users that don't care about WP8 but like the Lumia 900, I don't see a reason not to buy it under very specific conditions.  For people that like tons of apps and could care less about the OS, they're probably not buying WP anyway as iOS and Android have far more apps available.  For user's that like an integrated OS with a lot of the additional functionality baked in and occasionally use apps, the Lumia 900 is still an attractive option.  Another point to make is that developers that are interested in developing for WP in the next year or two would be extremely stupid to target WP8 exclusively because WP7.x is where the majority of the users will be until they all renew their contracts. I don't see anyone that's been working on or planning to work on a WP app stopping dead in their tracks and saying 'we're waiting for WP8' because WP8 will not be as attractive in the WP ecosystem for at least another year as the WP7.x platform will be much larger.  Also, delaying the release of their app will give competitors more time to polish their own versions so the WP7.x ecosystem is still very much a viable platform and thus, there is some continued value in owning a WP7.x device.  Would I recommend that new buyers get a Lumia 900 now?  Nope unless they absolutely fell in love with the phone and said this...this is what I've wanted all my life and nothing else but who says that?  WP isn't something you fall in love with at first glance.  At first glance, it's static, blocky and boring.  The beauty of this b*tch is that as you use it, it molds itself to you and for the most part, not the other way around.  Android let's you do everything but that's just it, you do everything but I keep thinking... I thought this thing was a phone.  iOS is a giant launching pad where the apps are all tiny little individual ecosystems all to themselves and I feel like a guy skipping from rock to rock trying not to fall in the water.  WP is the cute girl at the dance hidden behind braces and hugely oversized glasses that'll genuinely appreciate it when you notice her.  But that doesn't mean that her dad (Microsoft) will let you bang the hot sister (WP8) just because you took the lesser sibling (WP7) for a spin.  Let's be honest, you get what you pay for and current user's paid for WP7 devices.  If you settled for a WP7 device and hoped that you'd be getting WP8, technically, you made a mistake.  If you buy something, you should follow a rule: buy it for what it is...not what you hope it will be. You'll be much happier that way.

    • Iain Simpson says:

      I don't think it will hurt the sales too much around the world, most people buy a phone cause they like the phone not because they buy the phone in hopes its gets upgraded into something else a couple months later. so all in all was a pretty good day for WP. On a side note I am also an ios developer and know quite a few people (ordinary everyday people) with iphones and such and they really couldn't give a crap about ios6 and would just stay at the current version on the phone.

  15. Xuanlong says:

    I think Microsoft has at least done a decent job of bringing some WP8 features to current devices with WP7.8. It's a step they didn't have to take, but they did. Many of the new features in Windows Phone 8 involve hardware not present in current Windows Phones, such as NFC and multi-core processors. So there's no benefit or even logic to putting that type of software on devices that lack those to begin with. At least users are not being left out in the cold all together. The very first Windows Phones on the market are going to be able to receive the 7.8 upgrade, so that's a pretty good record on updates for Microsoft. It was more than generous of them to at least bring some of Windows Phone 8's features to current users. 
    If you really really really need to have Windows Phone 8 in all it's glory, simply a WP8 device?  Most Android devices out there are on version 2.2, and many are on earlier versions, and have no possible upgrades at all (At this time, Android is up to 4.0 with 5.0 being expected soon). Meanwhile Apple's updates are almost strategically designed to try and goad users into hardware upgrades by slowing down older iPhone models and leaving out features for all but the latest (and most expensive) version. I'm sure there are Windows Phone 7 users out there who want to be able to upgrade to 8, but over all, they've been better off than with other smartphone platforms. You can't please everybody all the time, but Microsoft did go above and beyond it's competitors.

    • Fritzly says:

      Have you ever heard of Nokia 610? It has NFC right now.
      And if MS strategy is, in your opinion so amazing, how come that sales are so low?
      Let us see how many devices will be sold, sold not shipped, in the third quarter.....

      • Xuanlong says:

        The version of the Nokia 610 with NFC, as you pointed out, already has NFC, so it obviously doesn't need a software update to use that. You don't understand the whole update process, so here's a clue. A software update cannot magically deliver new hardware onto the phones. It's not like a simple download of Windows Phone 8 will enable NFC on any device. Other than the Nokia 610, no current Windows Phone has the hardware for that, so aside from giving people a new phone, there's no way to get that capability to them.
        I use a Windows Phone every day, and I couldn't be happier. Sales numbers aren't everything. How many Apple fans would agree that Windows PCs are better just because they sell more? Is a Toyota better than a Ferrari because it sells more? Heck no.
        My point still remains, Microsoft has done a good job with it's updates thus far. The Windows Phone I use was running the first iteration of WP7 when I bought it, and has since then received the NoDo and Mango updates, both in a timely manner without any problems. For the record, my phone did not sprout a front facing camera when it got an update that would have enabled that, nor did I expect it to. This same device is going to receive the 7.8 update when it's available too. I don't know what more people are asking for. Short of magic, there is no way for Microsoft to give current WP7 users features which are not supported by their hardware.

      • Fritzly says:

        @xuanlong:disqus :I do understand the update process very well; my point is that the Nokia 610 has the hardware to support NFC so is MS bringing the necessary software to use it therefore updating the actual stack, stack that was created by Nokia, because WP 7,5 does not support NFC at all? Besides Lumia 900, the European version, has NFC as well.
        And please do not mix apples with oranges: Apple has always aimed for the upper segment of the market and being very profitable, Nokia, for example, always made the bulk of its profits aiming at the mid and lower segments.
        In business the goal is profits: you can either generate them selling fewer items at a premium price or selling tons of items at a cheap price. It is just a different business strategy.
        BTW Ferrari cars are junk........  

    • TechnologyRules says:

       WoW!!!

  16. ilev says:

    WP7 is dead and buried. It won't run any of WP8 applications. Developers will dump it in favour for the new WP8.
    On WP7's "Via Dolorosa" some Microsoft's partners also left this dead horse. WP7 started with 10 manufecturers, some fled screaming (Dell, LG...). Now, who are the new partners, according to Microsoft, for the WP8 ? 2 on brink of bankruptcy, Nokia, HTC, 1 with some money in its pockets from selling Android and Bada phones, Samsung, and a cheap $30 Android manufecturer from China, Huawei. Where are Dell, LG, Toshiba, Fugitzu,ZTE ..... It seems like they don't see a future in Windows Phones.

    • Awerg says:

      None of the list of manufatures make any smartphones at all.  They gave it a stab, it didn't work out for them.  It had less to do with WP7 and more to do with their long term business plan.

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