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

So, 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 Your phone is outdated already.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