Windows Phone 8 Looks Great, But It Screws Existing Users

Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 today, complete with multi-core support, a new Start screen, native code sharing with its forthcoming Windows 8, a new Wallet feature for mobile payments, SD card support, more screen resolution support and IE 10. And there's still more to come in today's Windows Phone Summit. Phew.

Importantly, existing users won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8; they'll only get version 7.8, which is essentially a stop-gap.

The new consumer-facing features are largely UI enhancements. The new Start screen gives more real estate to apps, ditching the right-side trough. All the tiles will be customisable in small, medium and large sizes. The SD card lot support will let people store media or even sideload apps. The new screen resolution support will enable more devices, with support for WVGA, WXGA and true 720p screens. Under the hood, Windows Phone 8 will support dual-core and quad-core processors, and it's designed to support up to 64-core processors. That's not a typo; Microsoft is trying hard to futureproof this OS from the inside out.

The new Wallet will have support for NFC payment systems, store cards and coupons. It's basically a combination of what Google and Apple are doing, which means it'll probably be limited to the US. Finally, if you have heaps of great Windows Phone 7 apps (I mean, someone must, right?) you'll be able to run those on the new phone.

For developers, today's news is all about how the new Windows Phone OS will share its core with Windows 8, Microsoft's forthcoming future-of-Windows operating system that's in Release Preview right now. Developers will be able to share native code between the two systems, and although it won't be write-once-run-anywhere, Microsoft claims that it will take a minimal amount of reconfiguration to get code that runs on one to run on the other, thanks to a shared set of native APIs that will allow for quite a bit of re-use. Microsoft also toutted a new ability for developers to create in-app purchases as a new revenue stream. Microsoft expects to have a software developer kit out in coming months.

There's welcome news for enterprise environments as well. Microsoft is promoting Windows Phone 8 as a complete security platform with secure boot and a vague promise of BitLocker-like encryption. Companies and other large organisations that want to manage which apps users can have on their phones will get their own app distribution environments.

All in all, it's a substantive upgrade that's going to please lots of developers and corporate IT departments. But existing users are getting boned. If you've got a Lumia running Mango today, you won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8. Microsoft is upgrading those users to Windows Phone 7.8, which includes the new Start screen. But once native Windows Phone 8 apps start coming out, 7.8 users will be out of luck. Sure, it had to do this to swap over its codebase, but that doesn't make it suck any less for existing users.



    This puts Nokia in a really horrible position. People will pass on Symbian because it's Symbian, and pass on WP7 because WP8 is coming.

    Can you imagine the outrage if Apple announced iOS 6 will only run on the 2012 iPhone onwards? (And no, cutting features like Siri doesn't count since all the OS APIs are still there and developers won't be affected.)

      Apple can call it whatever they want - they are still cutting features which is basically the same thing.
      No Siri on iPhone 4, No Facetime over 3G on iPhone 4, no Turn-by-turn navigation on iPhone4.

      Devs can still write apps that will function on both 7 and 8 (read the article).

        Completely different situation. The new versions still get pushed out with the same new APIs and whatnot, so it doesn't affect developers. Meanwhile every Windows Phone actually on the market is stuck on a version of the software which will never get upgraded and won't be able to take advantage of a single new developer API that happens to come with the next version of the OS. Apple not including built in apps doesn't affect anything here.

          good thing there arent too many win phones actually in the market.

          i can understand why they want to start fresh.
          and i quite likely will get a win 8 phone to go with my surface pro

      My ipad 1 wants to argue with you

    64 core processors!? Holy crap sticks!
    I remember around 2003 when a 10 core processor was developed. It was a cube sitting on a motherboard because it hadnt been flattened like todays multi core processors.
    Imagine what 64 cores would be like!

    What the hell would you need a 64 core processor phone for????

      have you seen Die Hard 4.0? you will be able to take your phone along with your and brute force your way into anything :P

      let's rewind 5 years. 'what the hell would you need a 1 or 2 ghz processor phone for?????'

        And if you keep rewinding who the hell would need a floppy bigger than 1.44MB. Lol

          And if you keep rewinding more who the hell would need a 5.25" floppy bigger than 320kb???

            And if you keep rewinding even more who the hell would need a wheel when you have legs???

          Also theres that rule that technology doubles in power every year, if there at 4 cores now, then it follows that in three years they will be at 64 cores.

            UMMM Alex Moores law is the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit doubles every 2 years

    Wow, very bad news for anyone looking to buy a Windows Phone in the next 3-4 months, I certainly couldn't recommend one to anyone if their brand new phone wont be getting the latest software.

    Personally I'm already pissed off my Windows Phone that will be 6 months old at the time WP8 comes out will not be able to upgrade after coming from a 3 year old iPhone that was always able to run the new software. If this thoroughly impresses me and Microsoft are damn lucky, I'll ditch my near new device for a new WP when new devices launch later this year.

    Microsoft had bloody better well put some device backup and restore features in WP7.8 and WP8 though, as currently a windows phone update involves losing all settings, SMS and saved application data.

      I agree with what you are saying.

      i will not go get the Nokia 900, but will wait for their WP8 phone.

        Ditto. I was ready to upgrade from my Mozart launch phone to a Nokia Lumkia 900. Now I will just wait out a little bit longer. Sorta glad the 900 didn't hit Australian shores sooner or I would be in Sicarius123's position.

    Microsoft are making all the right noises that what they're doing will be great.
    "screwing existing users" ffs gizmodo. you're pushing along with this mentality that a phone, unlike any other electronics product should be upgraded for free forever. the phone should be made so that it remains relevant for a reasonable time frame. they're doing this with the 7.8 upgrade. read between the lines and microsoft are swinging for the fences with windows 8. everything they are saying indicates this will be a seriously kick arse platform for phone vendors, software developers and customers. i don't think now is the time to get overly critical. I am a massive fanboy of apple, but mostly because i rely on these devices so heavily for my work and they make me look good to my customers. their strategy really looks after its customers unlike google's "well we've done our bit, here's the new os, don't come to us if you don't get an upgrade". microsoft need to burn off 7 if they're going to advance the platform. this is not the time to get overly caught up on supporting legacy for the benefit of getting it right. there's a good chance the tough love will produce best of breed products to tackle apple and finally product an iphone/ipad killer. gizmodo, just don't start.

      Every other device in this product category gets updated for free, at least for three years. Right now, you can go buy a windows phone that will be obsolete in three months. Who would want to get this on a two year contract?

        "Every other device in this product category gets updated for free, at least for three years"
        Samsung Galaxy S. Your argument is invalid

          Not official updates, but I'm running Jelly Bean on my two year old
          Galaxy S, and it works beautifully.

        You mean only fruit phones, and they pick and choose what they put in. Also, we're talking about a kernel change here. It's a once off thing. When Apple changes their kernel and still upgrades their old phones, then we can talk

      So what do you consider a reasonable timeframe? 3 months? 6 months? Because that's what you're getting if you buy a brand new top of the line windows phone 7 in 2012.

      Apple support their hardware for 3 years, 3-6 months is worse than most Android devices.

      Why shouldn't users expect yearly upgrades? If Microsoft can't give them to me, Apple can.

      Lets also not forget that Australia has basically no chance of seeing WP8 until 2013. Nokia have cemented their Australian release schedule as second quarter, the earliest Mango device sold was in what, January or February from Samsung and Telstra? It's not like we're going to see any of the current devices update to the new operating system. So how long will users be buying these obselete Windows Phone 7 devices on 2 year contracts?

        Actually, the hardware is still supported by Microsoft - ie, you'll get WP7 updates, no WP8.

        This isn't an O/S update, this is a brand new O/S, from kernel through to runtimes. Yes it sucks that you can't update your new Lumia, etc... But from a technical standpoint this is all very valid practice.

          So what? Microsoft are going to kill their old legacy hardware every two years? That's fairly terrible coming from what Apple have been doing.

          Pretty well means you need to be an early adopter, or don't bother because your device will be screwed if you get second gen of any generation. Australian's once again get screwed because we can't be early adopters when telco's and OEM's leave us 3-6 months behind on a launch.

            This is a bit of a special case though - going from a single core WinCE kernel, which runs on very specific hardware, to a multi-core WinNT kernel, which runs on very specific hardware.

            The hardware is also not being killed... there's the 7.8 update, and OEMs are still obligated to update firmware if there's an issue, still be updates from MS (such as security/bugfixes).

            Hater's gunna hate, though. Did you also complain you couldn't install WP7 on a WinMo6.5?

              Microsofts one and only possible way of recapturing a lot of users who feel shafted right now will be if they actually introduce a backup and restore feature.

              Without this? Well why not jump back to iOS or Android if we'll lose everything on our phones anyway?

            Apple? Tried using an earlier iphone with all the updates? Yeah, not nice. Better if they didn't update their old stuff.

              Ahh no, better they did.
              If you don't want it, don't update it. Simple.

      I agree. Given the supposed low 3% or so market share of Windows Phones, of course Microsoft aren't scared to lose some pissed off customers, they are interested in the massive remainder that are using other platforms or haven't yet got a smartphone. I'm not a tech-head and have never had a smartphone, but was waiting until the next iphone and WP8 phones come out later this year. I am going to go with WP8 though, it looks good to me. Eventually I'll match it with the Surface (or similar).

        A big portion of the reason people aren't buying Windows Phone is because the salesmen in telco stores aren't telling them to. They're badmouthing it over iOS and Android, and this gives them another thing to badmouth it over. "Oh you don't want that windows phone, Microsoft wont give you the next OS update".

          True, went to our providers nearest store with the intention of getting a Lumia 800 for the missus. The rep in the store said she didn't know anything about them as they only ever sold Droids. Wasn't overly impressed by a store rep not knowing how one of the products she was supposed to be selling worked, considering its not exactly brain surgery.
          That store shut down last month...

    I can believe Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT will need to be written for each platform. So the apps that I have on my phone I may have to wait for the developer to create a RT version and possibly may have to buy it again. Crap. Tablet to phone App compatibility I think is more important than tablet to PC capability. For most people I know and work with they don't want their PC Apps on there tablet but they do want there tablet Apps on their phone. I wish Windows 8 the best of luck but I think Microsft may be pushing the tablet PC (full OS) too soon and should have just got Nokia to make a Windows Phone 7 type tablet until the full OS could be put into the phone form factor also instead of separating Windows Phone 8 from Windows 8.

      This is crazy right. I mean, their having trouble getting developers for windows phone as it is, and then they go and split their own market up!

        UIt's a once off thing. I'm sure Apple and Google will need to do this eventually too

      What? You couldn't be further from the truth.

      Write a metro app, works RT and Win8.

      Purchase ties in to your store account, so you have that purchase forever.

    Was seriously looking at an early upgrade to Lumia 800/900 but nope I'll be waiting for WP8. But if it's running late with hardware to the market then there is every chance I'll be jumping ship with the rest of my early adopter friends who've just about all gone and grabbed the SGS3.

      Look at Mango. Feb for the Omnia, April/May for the Lumias and Titan? Mango was released in October.

      I think you're pretty well guarunteed WP8 will run late with hardware in Australia.

    Does this mean we can possibly install Windows Phone 8 to run on an existing multi-core Android device like how you were able to install Windows Mobile 6.5 on a then Android phone?

    I read that the programmes that you currently run on WP7.5 need to be updated to 7.8 in order to run on WP8. If the programme doesn't and remains at WP7.5 Mango level, it won't be able to run on WP8.

    Ouch.....Hopefully there is some sort of buy back promotion..

    Is it just me but I thing Google and Ms are really one upping Apple at the moment. Ios6 feature announcement was a joke. Kudos to ms for a nice update on the phone.

    I don't feel like I'm getting screwed at all. I didn't buy my Lumia 800 on the basis of what it might be able to do in the future, I bought for what it had at the time. If 7.8 has all the cool features of WP8, I will be a very happy Lumia 800 user until my contract expires and I can get a new phone.

    Even if it doesn't, I am almost completely happy with Mango now. It already has the "new" Nokia maps, which seems to be one of the big selling points for existing WinPhone users, so what exactly will WP7.8 users be missing out on? New apps? I doubt any of them will be of greater use than the ones we have now. 100,000 apps is already 99,990 more than I need.

      Doesn't look like the majority agree with you.

      Poll on "should I return my Lumia 900 to ATT for a refund"

      Personally I think it was an extremely bad decision for Nokia to launch back into the American market with WP7 when it wont be upgradable to the next version of Windows Phone and will probably severely damage a brand that was already on its last legs in North America.

      for once i'm in agreement with motormouth.

      I don't think weeple are going to be too upset. Plenty of weeple will buy new products.

    To be honest if Apple where doing what MS is doing for this update all hell would have broken lose in regards to how Apple are screwing the users. And people call Apple users suckers. Go figure.

      Apple have been doing it with OS X point upgrades for years and getting away with it. Only G3 Macs were able to run OS X, older "beige" PowerMacs were stuck on OS 9.x. It is a similar situation to Apple's transition from PowerPC CPUs to Intel and perfectly understandable, I reckon.

    Is this any different from Apple not allowing iOS updates to be allowed on certain iphones/ipads? It's not just the latest iOS6, I'm talking about previous updates that cut out iphone 3G and 3GS models. Which are still being offered by carriers. The iPad 1 won't be getting an update either and it's barely 2 years old.

      Yes there is a difference. The iPad 1, iPhone 3G are no longer sold, and the iPad 1 is well over 2 years old now. The 3Gs and onward have support, albeit limited, but they're not forgotten. Three years as opposed to three months support, you're kidding right? Thats a huge slap in the face for any company to give its customers. But then again its microsoft, and their fanboys will swallow anything they dish out.

        I don't own a Windows Phone. I wouldn't buy an Apple product either knowing that although their old hardware is not "forgotten" it might as well be. There are millions of 3G phones and iPad 1's out there. Who cares if Apple doesn't sell them anymore. It's still bad form to stop supporting hardware in order to force users to upgrade.

          Apple haven't stopped supporting old hardware, they just don't make latest software versions available for them. That is very likely because they are too resource-hungry to run effectively on older hardware and Apple don't want to tarnish their hard-won reputation for slick performance.

    No offence to WP users. But I have seen a numerous number of people having fits about how Apple screws users with upgrades and how they remove features from devices that are less than two years old. How is this any different to what MS are doing and why are you willing to except this but are happy to negatively comment in regards to Apple. Just wondering as I think all OS's have there place and why wondering why there is so much anger towards Apple.

      The essential difference here is that MS are at least offering an upgrade to WP7, so we are not being ignored at all. Far from it, it seems we'll get all the cool new features of WP8. The only issue for WP7 owners will be around apps and I imagine that somewhere within the 100,000 apps available now, most of us have all the stuff we need already, so its hardly the end of the world.

    As much as I like WP7.5, and this doesn't really come as a suprise, I cannot in good faith keep encouraging people to get one. It's not about OS updates at all - like it or not what people expect of a smartphone is apps. And with Win8/WP8/WinRT apparently sharing so much between them, devs are going to be better off going after that market than the miniscule WP7.5 userbase. That's just a fact.

    So my Lumia will keep serving me just fine for some time yet, but the future is with WP8 and that means a whole new generation of handsets.


      I'm sorry but I have all the same functionality, some via apps and some built-in, as everyone else I know has for their iPhone or Android phone, so I can't agree with your comment at all. I could happliy recommend WP7.x to anyone, because it works and it does all the things they would expect from a smartphone, and does them all really well. 99% of sheeple couldn't tell you what version for iOS or Android their phone was running anyway. If you don't believe me, ask around and see what responses you get.

        I didn't mention functionality, I mentioned apps. "Does it have Draw Something?" - yep, that stuff matters to the 99% of the market that doesn't own a WP7 handset. For no good reason, nobody cares that WP7 is faster at just about every day-to-day function. Right now, they want a particular set of apps and if a phone doesn't have it, they're not interested.

    To all those who bought WP7 and now (for some strange reason) expected it to be upgraded to WP8 (and having a cry-baby moment) - what did you expect, really? You knew when you bought your WP7 phone that it didn't have NFC support, multi-core processor support, better screen res what did you would magically be able to add on these new features with an WP8 upgrade? Duh? Get over yourselves.

    WP7 will still reap the benefits of WP8's software/ux updates (WP7.8) - and if you have a Nokia...your apps will still upgrade to what you see and get on WP8 (see nokia's conversations blog). So I am perplexed at all this negativity when the update was geared towards hardware that you don’t have now.

    Overall, the whole Windows ecosystem is coming together in a very interesting way. Am personally looking forward to upgrading my existing WP7 phone.

    People are complaining because their update is not called WP8. MS should've called it WP8 lite or something other than 7.8

    In the end:
    1) Most dev's won't just start building WP8 apps straight off the bat because most of the user base is still WP7 users. Expect majority, if not all of new apps after WP8 launch to run on existing devices.
    2) The games that are fully designed for WP8 won't be able to run that well on existing devices anyway so there's no point, again going to be very few, if any, at launch.
    3) There's already 100,000+ apps existing users can use.
    4) There's really nothing different to what Apple's doing with their iOS line.
    5) MS stated 18month software support, and considering there's still WP7.9 to go to, expect another update for second-gen devices, and maybe even first gen!

      There is a big difference to iOS. iOS has features missing but the underlying OS code is still the same so you have app compatibility. WP 7.8 is different from WP8 underneath the new skin. Not dissing WP or Microsoft but there is a difference what Microsoft is doing and what Apple have done. The only reason I use iOS is because the apps I use everyday are not available on any other OS. If WP has the same apps and no audio latency issues and midi, and kept the simplicity of WP7 then I would easily jump form iOS to WP. Fact is most developer will jump on to the WP8 boat and leave WP7.8 behind.

        And the fact that WP8 apps are not compatible with Windows 8 RT is a no go for me.

          My god, I am sick of people saying this.

          No, no they are not. All apps written against the WinRT runtime will work on WP8, Win8 and WinARM.

            He's right actually. They may reuse a lot of the structure, etc. but it's not like iOS where apps on the iPhone will just run on the iPad and vice-versa. You'll still need to port them over.

          Your apps aren't even on Android? Would like to know what they are. Was a survey showing around 8/10 most used iOS apps are already on WP7. With over 100,000 apps, I highly doubt you would not be able to find an alternative. Regarding audio latency, can't say i've experienced it on my Omnia 7

            Seriously though, for a general user who doesn't forum troll or read tech blogs, finding the alternative app on windows phone is a nightmare.

            The marketplace search is absolutely terrible to find anything useful.

        Don't think you read my whole post but why do you think dev's will diss 7.8? Most of the marketshare will be made up of WP7 users, and will be like that for some time. Why would dev's focus on WP8 straight away when they could be making more money by making their app compatible with 7 users?

      Developers will definitely start developing for Windows 8 straight away, the potential market is just too big to ignore, and if it is a simple matter to create a WP8 version at the same time, as MS claims, why would they not do that?

        Guess its best to wait and see. WP8 sdk's aren't out yet and app's do take time to make, so there won't be many WP8-only apps on launch. That and most users will still be on WP7, where dev's can make the most money off.

      There's a big difference between being denied the next major OS update and getting a skin like WP7, or going the Apple way and giving me the next OS missing a feature or two.

        While I agree with you there, what's wrong with having over 100,000 apps/games available to you? I think 8/10 most used iOS apps are already in the WP7 marketplace, and the other 2 missing apps, there are alternatives.

          To be honest, I'd say the majority of the third party apps in the WP marketplace I've used where the first party is not available are absolutely and total rubbish, requiring cosntant updates to keep working with the first party API.

          Now when WP8 comes out and those first parties get around to making their own app, do you think they're going to make two versions? Or make an app for the old operating system they already ignored? Or will they make a WP8 app I wont be able to use? Not to mention that they'll probably kill support for third parties once they come to the game.

          Try using soundcloud on windows phone. Damn it's an awful experience.

            While we have to wait and see, I think its more enticing for Dev's to support both, so making it under WP7 would be the smart thing to do as WP8 devices will be able use it also. In the case that WP8 becomes a massive hit and overtakes WP7's marketshare in months, then I'll take everything back.

        What? A "skin" adds no functionality. WP7.8 will change the way the whole menu system is set up, like the difference between the Start menu in WinXP and in Vista/Win7 (only hopefully better, not worse). I really can't see any reason I would need support for multi-core CPUs or 720p screens, so it seems 7.8 will have all the changes that are relevant to my hardware, bar support for WP8 apps.

    I love my phone (Optimus 7) (just over 8 months old) and couldn't be happier with it.

    Quite pissed off the poor collection of apps won't improve (a lot of decent stuff will be windows 8 only) though hoping 7.8 holds most of the software upgrades that aren't dependent on new hardware.

    This being said, I'll be looking to upgrade in 9-12 months anyway, once all the kinks are ironed out.

    Loving the new interface though, one of my pet peeves is that i can't get the home screen to look exactly how I like. Hoping there will some more colours to choose from though.

    Seriously - are the 5 people with Windows 7 phones in Australia all commenting on this article?

    I feel two ways about this, one way I feel a little bit cheated, I waited till a phone came out that I liked on windows phone till I could use it, which only came with the nokia, and now a little less than a year it will be running the old os. On the other hand they are being upfront with it, ever use an old iphone? they screw you over with the updates making it slower and restricting features that are very feasible for the phone but they only want it for the latest one so you buy it, thats one of the reasons I left the iphone.

    I own a lumia 800, am an avid Microsoft fanboy and have to say I am sick of the Microsoft 50% now 50% later in v next. this is a shining example of why I am now relearning Linux. The day Microsoft puts effort into their software and actually produces complete and polished product will be the day I consider them for anything again. Goodbye Microsoft, hello Android, centos, redhat.

    Why is everyone hanging on Microsofts typical hopes and dreams? Go get a phone that is good right now, make the evaluation for the current market. I own a lumia 800 and regret every minute I didn't buy a Samsung galaxy s3 or iPhone. Microsoft is literally telling you that you are doing phones and computers wrong and are forcing you to use it their way. I say people are different and you should use it the way that makes you comfortable. Check out android and buy a customizable interface, check out apple and buy quality. In the end don't limit yourself to the hopes and dreams of Microsofts great in theory approach. It's boring and most people regret it.

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