[Editorial] Current Windows Phone Users Need to Stop Complaining About 7.8

There was a lot of positive news yesterday about Windows Phone 8, but one announcement in particular nullified all that for a lot of people. For the last couple months we’ve been wondering if current Windows Phone devices would get the update to WP8. Yesterday it was confirmed that they wouldn’t, but what they would get is an update called Windows Phone 7.8.

A lot of Windows Phone users are quite upset about this. People who bought Lumia 900s especially feel betrayed since they fell victim to a huge marketing campaign, and it turns out they were still part of the beta test. They are upset because they are getting 7.8 instead of 8. But let’s take a look at exactly what 7.8 is, and why you really should stop complaining about it.

Last week Apple announced iOS 6 for the iPhone 3GS and later. Apple fans will immediately proclaim “Look mom, no fragmentation!” But is that actually true? Here’s a list of features from iOS 6 that the iPhone 3GS won’t be getting: Siri, turn-by-turn navigation and flyover, shared Photo Streams, VIP and flagged email features, and the offline reading list. Even the iPhone 4 still won’t have Siri, and it won’t get turn-by-turn navigation either. Apple still calls the update “iOS 6” instead of something like “iOS 5.6,” and that seems to make people feel content.

This is basically exactly what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone 7.8. Here is a quote from Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan about the 7.8 update:

“When you pull that Lumia out of your pocket after you’ve received that 7.8 update, it will look and feel the same as a Windows Phone 8 device,” claims Sullivan. “Because you don’t have a multicore chip and don’t have some of these other elements, it didn’t make sense for us to make those investments for devices that couldn’t really exploit them.”

In other words, because you don’t have a dual-core chip you don’t need dual-core support, etc. You are getting Windows Phone 8, but only the features that will work on your phone. If you think about it for a second it makes perfect sense, and this is how updating works on practically all phones of every platform. If your Android phone doesn’t have NFC you won’t get Android Beam in ICS, etc.

The only slip-up Microsoft made was giving the update a different name. They could easily call this update for current devices “Windows Phone 8” and no one would be the wiser. So current owners, stop complaining. You are the victim of honesty in a usually dishonest industry. Enjoy Windows Phone 8.


  • Joe, I would almost agree, if there was not the fact that the new runtime won’t be ported to older devices, so the apps developed for WP8 won’t run on 7.8. As long as I have the latest iOS, I can use many of the new apps in the app store.

    However, I think the new devices will be such a tremendous technology shift that it justifies such a change (its maybe similar to when Apple switched from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS; a lot of apps, especially games, did not run then on the 3G and it was phased out soon).

  • Andy

    Perfect.

  • idlelimey

    Very well put, a few professional journo’s would do well to read this article and advance their understanding of Windows Phone 8/7.8

    I’ve been holding out an upgrade for this news and I can’t wait for 7.8 to hit my aging Samsung Omnia 7. She’ll do me well until I get a better understanding of the hardware options available in the first wave of Windows Phone 8 devices.

    Excellent article.

  • Joe

    Good point about the apps. It really is like 3G > 3GS.

  • CX1

    There are some smaller features any gen 1 or 2 phones could support that they are not getting but it seems most are complaining about hardware related features that just boggles my mind as why they think they are entitled.

  • Agreed. THIS is an issue worth “complaining” about. It might be less of an issue if the time between upgrades was the same as, say, the iPhone 4 and 4s, but it’s doubly problematic since the L900 will have been released 6 month prior instead of a year.

  • I don’t think its fare to discuss the iPhone and
    backwards comparability in comparison to Windows or Android
    phones. Primarily because Apple is both the software and hardware
    vendor, which means they space out hardware releases and has a lot of control
    over various requirements. Where Android and Windows phone
    manufacturers are taking and releasing dozens phones annually with
    minor hardware differences to maximize market niches using the current OS
    specs. Which will make those phones irrelevant to the next iteration of
    the OS, such as many phones that are running Android 2.3 now, won’t get
    4.0.

    For example I purchased an Android phone with a 2 year contract. When I
    reported a blatant bug within the first year of owning the phone to
    HTC they said the phone is considered end of life and they wouldn’t be updating
    the phone.

    This is my largest concern with this model of development
    and distribution. The phone manufactures make their money by new phone
    purchases, so they have no ROI to support phones for very long since they
    release a new model almost every month.

    However I do recall that during the Windows Phone
    8 Summit, one of the speakers mentioned that developers are still
    able to compile their apps compatible with Windows Phone 7. However,
    I imagine apps that require the multicore and higher graphics
    processing, won’t be available for older phones. Like how some apps in the
    Apple App store aren’t available on 3GS where they might be available for 4
    & 4S. It is really up to the developer to determine their application’s
    requirements.

  • finally a good article to read, igive this article 7.8/8

  • Great post. I agree, but it still is a shame about the apps not working. I understand why, but still a shame.

  • JSYOUNG571

    This is what I have been trying to preach across the boards. It is not about the old hardware and NFC. It is about the continued support of apps for our phones for people who are stuck in 2 year agreements. I remember this to well with Windows Mobile 6.5. The apps were never updated and stayed full of bugs because Microsoft was focusing on Windows Phone 7. Some of the apps were to the point where they didn’t work it all.

  • Well, your point of view here is the software/hardware vendor view. But for any system to succeed, it has to face the other systems in every aspect and primarily from a consumers view.

    Hence, from a consumer’s view Microsoft behaved at least ambigious, because they emphasized that every WP7 will be the same user experience as every other WP7, giving an Apple like flavor. So, what people got wrong is that the same experience among WP7 devices does not mean the same experience across all Windows Phones. Plus, you have to agree that it is understandable from a consumers point of view that their brand new Lumia 900 is about to be legacy in half a year from now.

    To say that again: I’m personally more than happy with WP8 and I like a clear cut more than putting precious resources into support for legacy hardware.

    As for the development: I’m pretty sure it will not be possible to be backwards compatible. It might be that if you have programmed an app in XAML/C#, it could be transferred to the WP7 Silverlight. However, I guess many developers won’t do this (if you see e.g. how many XBox live games are still not compiled for Mango, and this barely takes a couple of seconds to do). As for C++/XAML or C++/DirectX you can be pretty sure that there is no backward compatibility.

  • It’s my understanding that it’s only going to be Native apps. So really high end games.

  • Wyn6

    To all those talking about being left behind or not having access to WP8 apps let me post what I posted elsewhere on the internets.

    Question: Why would a dev of a normal app, normal being not requiring upgraded specifications (e.g. games) cut out millions of potential customers?

    Let me clarify. Let us say that WP has 15 million users (some put the numbers between 13-16 million or so) right now. If a dev codes strictly for WP8 and submits their app at launch of WP8, how many consumers would that be?

    Let’s say 3 months after launch WP8 has sold 6 million units (just a number) but in the 7 months prior WP7.x has sold another 9-12 million units increasing its user base to between 21-28 million units. That means WP8’s 6 million users would be somewhere between 20-30% of the entire base of WP users.
    However, if that same dev codes for WP 7.5 and higher, how many potential consumers are they reaching at that point? Let me answer that… ALL OF THEM.

    So, as a dev who is probably trying to turn a profit (some are hobbyist, I know), why would you NOT code for the largest potential userbase? At such time that WP8 users surpass WP7 users, meaning most people on the current platform have transitioned over, probably in 2 years, THEN you can update your app to WP8/9 specs.

    Business-wise, this just makes more sense. You’d be foolish, in my opinion, not to do this as a dev.

    And, for consumers/users, by the time you’re ready to transition to WP8/9 (1-2 years) you’ll more than likely have access to nearly 200k-300k apps, if not more, for WP7.x.

  • I’m pretty sure they said no apps that target 8.0 will work, but you can target 7.5 and hit both.

  • menzlo

    People will target wp8 to port to windows 8. Windows 8 is a much bigger platform than wp7.x

  • menzlo

    Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 share the same core, which means if you make an app for Windows 8 you can port it to windows phone 8. You can bet tons of apps will come to WP8 this way — and those won’t run on WP7.x

    Also, updating your app would amount to writing it again from scratch. I don’t know how many people would be down to do that.

  • Wyn6

    Yes, many apps will come to WP8 via Win 8. However, there will be many devs that see the vast benefits in developing for the phone first and then porting.
    Why would you cut out a potential revenue stream? If you’re developing for any of these platforms you’re most likely aware of the capabilities, or lack thereof, of each.
    In the end, it’s gonna be up to the individual devs. But, there are 100k apps that run on Windows Phone 7.x. Indigenous WP8 apps are a long way from matching that total. I guarantee WP7.x users will be just fine and many, many more apps will hit those versions of the phone.

  • JonaLvpool

    Just bought a Lumia 800 with WP7.8, it’s a shame that a device like this won’t update to WP8, a great gadget.

  • SRK

    not true

  • Ex-WP7.8 user

    Join the discussion…

  • MS=MostShamefull

    I don’t care about new features, what I want on my WP7.8 is the new apps. Why compare with Apple when WP7.8 is far worse? At least older apple devices will have some tweaks here and there though without siri. Did i mentioned it can run most of the latest apps too? Can we say the same about WP7.8? Absolutely not! Heck, there isn’t any official instagram app, marketplace is empty and some of the leftover apps (still no price reduction to ease users) is even on v1.0.0. So will WP8 be abandonned with the coming of WP9? Most certainly it would. Why cant i complain when my phone is nothing short of a beta test phone. Telling dissapointed WP7.8 users its a honest move in an dishonest industry seems ironic, considering the fact that MS has advertise contary to what they offer. In fact, its a prime example of a dishonest company in a dishonest industry. Shameful