Microsoft announced earlier this week their plans to officially stop supporting both Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 in the second half of 2014. Due to some rather unfortunate release dates and the fixed eighteen month product life cycle, it seems that the more advanced WP8 will actually cease to be officially supported before 7.8. Now, when I say that Microsoft “announced” their plans to end support for the two operating systems, that’s not entirely accurate. What they actually did was to quietly slip the information into their support page.
The resulting news created a certain amount of confusion and in some cases anger among users of the platform, especially those who may have recently purchased a device on a two year contract, only to find out that their device will no longer be supported after three quarters of the new contract’s duration. Even so, this is an improvement on their announcement of the lack of upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to 8.
Chances are that more recently purchased devices will have already been upgraded to a newer version of Microsoft’s mobile offering by the time the support officially ends, and the initial concerns voiced by some are unfounded. It’s already known that there is no clear upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to 8, with the rather awkwardly named 7.8 being something of a stopgap to curb the resentment of early adopters who would need to purchase a new device to see the full benefits of WP8, but little is known about the plans to advance on the latest version of the OS. It would be highly surprising though to find out that current devices will be receiving few or no updates.
I guess it’s possible that MS will throw in the towel when it comes to mobile operating systems, but let’s be honest, that is highly unlikely. It surely won’t be long now until we begin hearing speculation of which direction the latest incarnation of WP will take. When we’ll actually hear from Microsoft themselves though, is another thing altogether.