The good news: Microsoft is loosening its strict spec standards to push some highly affordable Windows Phones to the market. The bad news? Those phones are going to be a little bit, shall we say, compromised.
Nokia and ZTE are going to be manufacturing Windows Phones with just 256MB of RAM shortly, but they're going to have to leave out certain aspects of the WP Tango experience. Specifically, "processor intensive" apps (potejtially your favourite games) won't work, you won't be able to manage podcasts, fast app switching is dead, some HD video codecs are dead, Bing Local Scout is dead, background agents are dead, automatic SkyDrive photo uploading is gone too.
We're fans of Windows Phone and have beaten the RAM-doesn't-matter drum before, and it really doesn't — after a certain point. That point being, apparently, around 256MB. And while I appreciate Microsoft's drive to get its mobile candy in more people's gullets, if you're getting a phone on contract, the outright price doesn't really hit you the same way.
I'm generally one to say cheaper is always better, but you know what? That's only true until it's not. [Windows Team Blog]