Editorial – Microsoft hits the “reboot” switch again. I’m utterly disgusted

Editorial   Microsoft hits the reboot switch again. Im utterly disgustedSo, here it is – the big announcement from Microsoft. Well, the biggest one since yesterday at least. It’s the stitching-together of the new ecosystem – Windows Phone 8 will use the NT kernel just like Windows 8 instead of CE. This is good news, as is the addition of multi-core CPU’s and NFC. Windows Phone 8 was previously known as “Apollo”, but for those owning a Windows Phone 7.5 device or about to buy one, there’s a major sting in the tail.

It is incompatible with current devices. The exact quote from their blog reads..

Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware.

Yes. You read that right. It’s INCOMPATIBLE. Even those shiny new Nokia Lumia devices won’t be upgrading to the new OS. It’s effectively hitting the reset button yet AGAIN – just as they did from 6.5 to 7. It’s completely alienating the few users they have. I just don’t get it. It signals the death knell for even the Lumia 900 – who’ll buy that knowing that it’s running on an OS that’s about to be canned? Hey Lumia owners! Your phone is outdated already. Are Microsoft dead set on killing Nokia until it can be bought for loose change? This is a totally new OS coming in the Autumn, just a few months away. That new Lumia you just invested two years into is now old.

Yes, Windows Phone 8 looks great, yes, they needed to do it, but NO – don’t throw away your Windows Phone 7.5 customers. If you’ve just bought a new Windows Phone 7.5 device then sorry, all you’re going to get is a slightly refreshed Start screen in Windows Phone 7.8. A new screen. Is that it? Look at the new Start screen – what the heck happened to that all-important design philosophy? It’s been thrown in the bin and there’s now an extra row of icons. I’m sorry, but where I come from an OS “update” shouldn’t just contain the removal of a black bar just to jam more icons in.

Meanwhile Nokia have warehouses full of Lumia devices, all running on another “burning platform”. They’re going to have to sell them for pennies just to off-load them but hey, what’s another few million down the toilet?

New apps, designed for Windows Phone 8, won’t run on Windows Phone 7.5. This is just months away. New Lumia 900 owners might have thousands of apps to choose from, but what if the next “Angry Birds” or “Cut the Rope” craze only arrives on Windows Phone 8?

If you bought Kin, then Zune, then Windows Phone 7, would you have enough confidence left to put more cash into this new ecosystem?

Sure, I understand that some features just aren’t compatible because it’s different hardware, but with a version number of “7.8” and one minor tweak for existing owners, it’s rubbing salt in the wounds. Couldn’t they at least put some of the Skype integration in or continue improving it a little further? Upgrade at least SOME of the stuff which isn’t reliant on specific hardware. Don’t just offer up a new Start screen and then wash your hands of all those Windows Phone 7.5 owners. They can’t really go much further if “7.9” is the only version number left, so we have to assume that they’re shutting the door on existing owners. Those owners are new. They are your customers Microsoft. They expect better when they bought their very expensive phone yesterday. The Lumia 800 and 900 are still very new phones, and customers are still going to end up buying them in the next few months too.

Microsoft, I refer you to my earlier article. Supporters, and I was one, recognise that this is an important move and that the “new ecosystem” ties together the Surface tablets, Windows Phone and Windows 8. Me, I call it throwing the few customers you have into the toilet, yet again. Brand new devices, in shops now, which won’t get the full upgrade? Microsoft, you’re giving your customer base the finger. It’s effectively stating that those Lumia devices never were “smartphones” because, let’s face it, they’re not smart enough for proper multitasking or multi-core CPU’s.

Perhaps I’m being dramatic. Perhaps I should pick my laptop up off the floor. Perhaps this is Microsoft finally admitting there’s so few Windows Phone 7 owners that they can throw them under a bus? But then.. then I read about the Microsoft “new support” for the new Windows Phone 8 owners…

We will support devices with updates for at least 18 months from device launch.

Now, although they did say “at least” 18 months, the minimum amount isn’t even going to see you through one phone contract. Are they stating that each variant of the OS won’t last as long as your contract?

Have a read of some of the comments in their announcement, you’ll see that it’s not just me. Sure, Google aren’t much better but this is a product charging a licence fee. The only people truly excited about this launch are Microsoft themselves, those with enough money to buy handsets unlocked and those who are wise enough to wait a few generations before Microsoft start getting things right. Existing owners now know what it’s like to be smoked by Windows Phone.

I leave you with an advert for the Nokia Lumia 900. Entitled “The Beta Test Is Over” it’s now looking like Lumia 900 owners and many others were part of a beta programme…

Link – Windows Phone 8 Sneak PeakWindows Phone Blog

Windows Phone 8 - The details
Meet the ZTE Grand X
  • No, you obviously don’t get it. This is really exciting news. Shared core between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? Amazing. Fixing all the worries we had (and there were very few) with 7.5 like added storage, NFC support and those weirdos who still want actual icon tiles. All fixed. All your apps are compatible. You have no idea what’s in 7.8 vs 8 so why throw such a massive tantrum?

    I love this site, but this is not a great editorial. It’s like you’re just going with your gut without finding out the details.

    • ItemSize

      Did you not read the same article as me?  It means that if you bought a Windows Phone *today* it would not be getting the update later this year.  That.  Is.  Deplorable.

      • No, it’ll get 7.8. Is it worse than having somebody running iOS 5 on an iPhone 4, missing features that their 4S-sporting friends will be getting? No. If anything it’s better because the difference is clearer and more honest. Is it worse than not getting whatever version of ICS HTC/Samsung/your carrier decides to send you because the entire OS infrastructure is so fragmented.

        So why moan? It’s double-standards.

        • Someone who gets it!

      • Anonymous

        Would it help if rather than an “update”, you considered it a new product?
        They have to make the cut-off point somewhere. I’m not sure what the problem is?
        Would consumers be happy paying for new OS’s to be written to be backwards-compatible to run with a crappy user experience on last generation hardware?

        In any case, they dropped the ball so long ago it won’t matter to me. It’s rolled behind the sofa and I can’t reach it. I don’t know anyone who’s got or is even considering going back to Windows Phone.

  • Rooster

    I quite agree gears – after 9 years on windows mobile phones, most of them htc and some of them very good, especially the physical qwerty ones (where have they gone) and latterly my ageing htc Mozart, I will be getting a galaxy SIII or an iphone 5 next definitely, because at least they are stable os’s that will get updates.

    • You’re kiddint me right, not all Galazy SII have ICS yet. As for IOS, talk to anyone who is forced to put the second major update on their device and watch their beautiful iPhone crawl.

      Am I the only one who heard they a releasing 7.8 for the current generation phones with features that will support the hardware?

      • Anonymous

        Samsung released ICS for the SII a while back now. If you haven’t received it then it’s likely the fault of your carrier and not Samsung. Not a comforting answer I know but we should place the blame where it really lies.

        I’m not quite as angry as Gears about this but the fact that MS only confirmed the new homescreeen for 7.8 doesn’t exactly relieve my anxiousness. Silence isn’t really the right strategy when you’re (potentially) shafting all fo the early apotors who actually took a chance with you.

    • Samsung has had their share of blunders when it comes to upgrades. Apple has been accused on many occasions of releasing updates for older phones as a way to force them to upgrade their handsets. Remember IOS for on the 3G, they are doing the same thing with IOS 6 on the 3GS. iPhone 5 will go through the same thing two years later. What Microsoft is doing is not different, weather you by a Lumia 900 today or an iPhone 4S, next year there is going to be new hardware that these devices aren’t equipped to handle the new features. Again, it’s technology.

  • BillyBoy

    I’m really not sure what the problem is. I knew this was coming but still purchased a Lumia 900. Really, really nice. Loving it. When i’m out of contract then perhaps I’ll look at Windows Phone 8. You just can’t keep chasing every upgrade immediately it comes to market.

    • Exactly. It’s more of a guarantee that most smartphone owners get! We get a very nice consolation prize in the form of WP7.8

      • Anonymous

        But you don’t know if 7.8 will be a nice consolation prize yet. What if it’s just the new homescreen.

        I’m gonna wait to see before I have a rant but I’m not exactly filled with confidence.

  • Dude!

    They aren’t doing anything other companies don’t do. Better than Apple rebooting every year! Better than releasing the full OS and forcing people to update older devices to an unsable state.

    With that said, pretty much all the features they announced require updated hardware, what are they supposed to do, update your hardware through code to add multicore procs, higher resolution, nfc chips………

    This is technology, as a technical blogger, you should know that, as a mobile blogger which advances more than other technologies, you should really know that.

    It’s technology, if you can’t keep up with it, buy yourself some pigions and stick notes to their feet to commuicate.

    Not to mention they already stated they are releasing a version 7.8 that will add all the features of Windows 8 that don’t require the new hardware…..They could have called it Windows 8 but better to call it 7.8, get it 8 for 7…7.8

    I won’t even see 7.8 on my Lumia 900, I already can’t wait to get my hands on a higher resolution device! The Lumia 900 is just to bide me time until then!

    • Anonymous

      But their wording is very strange. Saying that existing phones won’t receive features which require new hardware is so obvious it’s just pointless to mention.

      To say that WP8 won’t be compatible either means that 7.8 will be a token update with hardly anything new or is a very poor choice of wording which is bound to unsettle your customers.

      • Costomers are always going to be unsettled, we go through this everytime any OS is upgraded. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of unsettled iPhone 4S users when Apple releases the iPhone 5. Anyone buying a Galaxy SIII is going to find it obsolete as soon as Google releases a new OS with features the hardware isn’t capable of. I still remember the Windows Mobile days when everyone cried everytime MS released a new OS and HTC said they wouldn’t be upgrading their phones.Unforunately it’s the nature technology. The real difference is how far a company goes to support existing hardware and from experience, MS has done a much better job in this department than most companies.Unfortunately it’s technology, I’m sure anyone can agree happy or not that Microsoft has to keep pace with other platforms and sometimes this is the only way to do it. The hardware is very different right down to the change in CPU/GPU Architecture. By the time Windows Phone 8 because totally mainstream, most people are going to upgrade their handsets even if they were able to fully release the new OS to the current generation. A 7.8 update and anything beyond that is going to tide users over until then.

  • In reply to your “updates”: Nobody who is on a 2 year contract can complain when they can’t get the latest and greatest phones as soon as possible. 18 month contracts are still available. And of course you’re not “alone”. This is the internet, if there is a way to bitch about something, people will find it with ease.

  • Rooster

    What about apps, with they be backward compatible?

    • Apps are all backwards compatible, even with different resolution devices. They will auto-upscale without any update required.

      • Anonymous

        Old apps will work on WP8 devices but will new apps which use new APIs work on Mango or 7.8?  Will MS spend the money/effort to backport APIs and software features to a dying platform? That’s the big question.

        • Sergioxba

          There’s also another problem… marketplace is now closed for anyone using anything bellow mango… how much time until mango be blocked? or the 7.8?

  • Mmmmm not normally one to defend things like this but it sort of feels Windows Phone 7 = Android 1.3 / 1.6 at which point there was a big jump so 
    Windows Phone 8 = Android 2.1 / 2.2 etc… Granted may be lessons have been missed which may be the killer but the situation isnt that much different.

    • Anonymous

      Except quite a few phonts got updates from 1.5/1.6 to 2.1. For example, my HTC Hero.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Leigh but I must side against you on this one.  It isn’t a “reboot” as all the apps are still compatible and as others have said, so far the listed features it won’t be getting are down to hardware.

    If I bought a Lumia 900 on release I would be kinda pissed yes but then I would have bought it knowing its specs were very last gen and its future wasn’t the brightest. 

    The reality is that windows phone was rushed out the door.  This fact came to light some time ago whenever they said (I think it was Joe during an interview) they wanted to build it on the new windows core but didn’t have time so hashed something together on the CE build.  This has been coming from day 1 and I feel for all those that think Microsoft has screwed them over but now its done its a good thing.  They have the most solid base of all to build from, the pain is over and its all  smooth sailing from now on.

    If you jumped in early you are ready for an upgrade and if you just made the jump with a lumia 900 (anything lower is so bottom end what did you expect?) then you get A update.  Its not that bad.

    For the record I don’t have a Windows Phone as it didn’t suit my usage but the improvements are making me much more interested.

  • TheDunelmian

    Msoft are losing the plot. This smacks of desperation. I have been waiting years to see if they can give me a sensible business user upgrade from WM6.1 and thanks to this site I have been on a Droid for the last few months. WP8 will have to be stonking if they want to win my custom back.

  • iPhone Fan

    I haven’t seen an angry editorial from you about the latest android phones not receiving the latest update Leigh so why has this upset you so much? Do you even use a Windows device anymore? It seems to me that most of the features that aren’t hardware specificic will be available with 7.8 so Lumia 900 owners shouldn’t complain too much. Apple gives their older devices the latest updates but they don’t all have the same features so in effect they are different version like Windows will be. At the end of the day consumers will decide with their wallets if they want a Windows phone or not.

  • William D

    Chill out!

    I dont feel great about it with my Lumia, but 7.8 is a great compromise which I am happy to live with.

    As for app compatibility, it may not go backwards, but it does go forwards so i dont see what the problem is really. The apps i buy today on my current device will work on any future device i buy. A year down the line it may be a problem when new apps are 8 only, but we’re not there yet

    Anybody remotely tech savvy who has followed blogs etc would have known this was a likely scenario, so let’s not feign the surprise anger please!

  • Craig

    I suppose you can look at this two ways.  1), as Leigh does, which is that MS is throwing it’s user base a big fat finger in that no matter what device you own…it will not every be the latest and greatest OS going forward….however 2) you could also take from this that MS sees that it’s user base is so small in terms of market share, that it needs to take action now, before further adoption.

    I think it’s a brave, and yes, infuriating decision by MS.  I wouldn’t be at all happy if I’d purchased a nice new Lumia, that’s for sure.

  • Rooster

    Fair enough MS – ditch the existing customer base with their new handsets because the customer base is so small it probably doesn’t matter, but the problem is that much of that customer base were the few who saw the advantages in MS products, office/sharepoint compatibility out of the box, and who were promotors of the OS. If youre most loyal customers, like me, are ditched in such a careless way, then you wont retain them. I also wonder about the environmental implications of OS upgrades needing new handsets every 12-18 months – they are so powerful and feature packed now the 18 month cycle of new technology cannot be good for the planet!

  • Leigh been a member here pretty much since this site came live and this is the biggest pile of drivle i have ever read on here.HAve you ever tryed to run the latest iOS or android on an original Iphone or hero?
    they run soo badly because they are all designed to maximise the power of the new hardware making the old devices compleatly unuseable. at least i know that my now “old” HD7 will still be running silky smooth for the rest of its life

  • Andy

    great good article, agree with many of your viewpoints, what a mess MS has made of WP7, bet some folks in Nokia wished they stuck with Symbian

    • Raygun

      Its not a good article, its a one sided POV of a situation. He and everyone else is making a mountain out of a molehill.

      It’s articles like these that send customers into a frenzy of panic instead of thinking about it rationally. The intent here is only to make MS and or Nokia look bad, when there is no need for it. 

  • Raygun

    The lumia 900’s were sold practically free. Hell, I was paid 50 bucks to own mine. I bought it on amazon wireless for 50 bucks, then Nokia issued a 100 dollar credit on y ATT bill the first month for an issue I did not even have. 

    Most Lumia owners are not out much at all. If you REALLY need the latest phone you can always opt to buy one. 

    The issue here is not how Microsoft SHAFTED their customers, but the idea of entitlement.

    Every single person who bought a lumia 900 has the option to purchase an WP8 phone when it comes out, or wait about 11 months to upgrade, possible for free. 

    The rest of the Windows phone base who bought phones last year will be out of contract by the time WP8 hits. Apps from WP7 will run on WP8 and if you really really have that desire to have the WP8 version…buy it. 

    Apps are cheap anyway and I doubt most users have more than 30 on their phone as it is. Hell most of the cool useful apps on Nokia are free…and ad free. 

    I love how every single anti MS tech journalist is making this matter 100x worse than what it is.

    I am a lumia 900 owner since april and I have ZERO issues with what MS is doing, simply because the apps I have purchased don’t even add up to the cost of lunch. The apps I use are free from Nokia and imo the best versions in the market and the phone did not hurt my wallet…hell as I stated I was GIVEN money to buy the phone.

    I have seen adds where if you get a Lumia 900 you get a free set of headphones or something. Hell, those cost more than the 99 dollars to buy the phone and they WILL Work with windows 8…wow, yet another reason customers are not out of money.

    If you actually sit back for a second to do the math on the various promotions, the 1.5 year upgrade in the AT&T contract (in the states), the initial cost or lack of on the phone itself then there really is no issues here or a reason to complain.