Microsoft scores own goal with their sad attitude to Windows Phone upgrades

Microsoft passed a really positive message to the people, like me, who invested in Windows Phone 7.5 when they announced that Windows Phone 8 won’t run on older devices on June 20 at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco. In particular, those who recently bought a Nokia Lumia 900 after it was released in various markets around the world must really feel happy about their decision to go with Microsoft rather than Android or iPhone.

Sure, Microsoft is throwing a bone to owners of Windows Phone 7.5 devices when they say that they’ll provide a half-way-house release called Windows Phone 7.8 to enable exciting features like “three sizes of tiles”. I just can’t wait. In fact, I’m quivering with excitement at the prospect of another tile size to play with. It should compensate for the other deficiencies in the operating system…

I think this is a brain-dead decision that looks pretty feeble when compared against Apple’s record of making sure that new releases of their O/S run on older versions of iPhones. For example, the iPhone 3GS that I used before making the now-lamentable decision to try Windows Phone 7.5, upgraded smoothly from iOS 3 to iOS5 over the time I owned the phone. Microsoft’s protestations that the platforms that support Windows Phone 8 will incorporate new hardware such as multiple cores and removable Micro SD cards fall on stony ground. After all, we’re dealing with software here and surely a few IF… THEN… ELSE conditions could be incorporated into the code to support older devices?

In addition, I think that this announcement will stall the market for Windows 7.5 phones because consumers are unlikely to want to buy a phone that is now officially obsolete with no future. Of course, manufacturers and carriers can dump phones onto the market to shift them at low prices. This will likely get rid of inventory but won’t help the profitability of Nokia in particular, so it’s likely to suffer even higher losses until it can get Windows 8 phones out the door and Microsoft releases the O/S. Not really a good situation at all for the folks in Finland.

This ham-fisted attitude to keeping customers happy coupled with the doubts that Nokia will survive long enough to release phones that support Windows Phone 8 are almost enough to make me revert to the iPhone. Maybe I’ll go the whole hog and buy a new MacBook Pro to go alongside the iPhone as the new Retina display looks quite stunning. Buying decisions are often influenced by small things… like not being able to upgrade your phone.

All in all, their stance on Windows Phone 8 is just a sad and arrogant indication of the way that Microsoft thinks about their mobile customers.

– Tony

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna


About Tony Redmond

Lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and writer about all aspects of the Office 365 ecosystem.
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10 Responses to Microsoft scores own goal with their sad attitude to Windows Phone upgrades

  1. Joe M. says:

    As usual Tony you are spot on. It’s a breath of fresh air to see someone closely tied to Microsoft to be able to provide a truly non biased vew point.

  2. Pingback: In which I dispute Tony Redmond re Windows Phone upgrades | Paul's Down-Home Page

  3. Bob says:

    I disagree..for one thing my 900 was free..even if I paid $100, I would upgrade my phone every year. The future is going to be non-expandable hardware..look at the new MacBook. Technology is cheap..dont whine so much..its make good money.

    • Ah but my Nokia Lumia 800 wasn’t free. I paid $560 (approx.) for it to get the phone early on. Even if I had waited for local operators to support a Windows 7.5 phone, I would still have paid more than $100. And anyway, it’s not just the initial payment… it’s the contract that the phone operators tie you into because they subsidize the phone. So anyone who got a Windows 7.5 phone has probably 6-12 months of a contract to endure before they can change…

      And I agree about the non-expandability of the MacBook Pro. But that’s the way that hardware seems to be going… if you want low weight and low profile, you have to accept some compromises on the industrial design, which seems fair to me.


  4. BtilEntrails says:

    Did you have a promise to get an update when you bought the phone you are using? If so take that up with whom made that promise. As far as MS not doing something, I am okay with this as I am not into getting a Blue Screen of Death because MS is trying to support what was sold or released well ahead of what is on the roadmap. Many ways to spin this and to say Apple or anyone else is better, it is just another spin on things. As I write this from my Macbook, I can honestly say that leaving one platform for another over what you did not get when you expected something, well that is a bit childish. As far as adding to the OS an IF.. Then.. Else.., I say Thank you MS for not making the OS larger to support hardware that was never promised an upgrade to Windows 8. Yep, I just said that with my outside voice!

    • I didn’t have a promise of updates – you are absolutely correct there. What I am concerned with is that I bought what I thought was reasonably half-decent hardware in terms of a Nokia Lumia 800 that was hyped by Microsoft and Nokia management and has now turned out to be a six-month turkey. Not so good. Again I compare to Apple’s record in making sure that their new OS run on old hardware (to a reasonable degree).


  5. As with all things to do with Apple hardware, Paul has some good comments to make. But I think he is still dead wrong about what Microsoft has just done to their consumers. If you’re trying to create a new ecosystem around Windows Phone, don’t you think that you’d want to create a sense to loyalty to the brand? With their current course, Microsoft has essentially said to consumers that they are liable to be screwed after they buy and use Windows Phone hardware. And while I agree that Terry Myerson (current Microsoft corporate VP for Windows Phone) took a very good decision to move to 64-bit only hardware for Exchange 2007, that doesn’t get away from the fact that Microsoft has made a fundamental error with Windows Phone 8.0, at least in the eyes of this user. And maybe others, as per

  6. Geoff Coupe says:

    I disagree. I’m very happy with my Nokia Lumia 800. I will continue to get good usage and warm feelings from it for a long time to come. My previous mobile was a Nokia 6310i bought in 2002. Despite the siren calls of many generations and species of Smartphones I felt comfortable in waiting until the Nokia and Mango became available. It met my requirements. It continues to do so.

  7. drew says:

    Mr. Redmond, I have to *very respectfully* disagree too. We have known for some time that WP8 might not be supported on 7.x devices. The fact that a new OS and new devices are coming out does not render your Lumina 800 worthless; it’ll still the great phone that attracted you to it in the first place – and with 7.8 it’ll even be a little nicer. To me this is a *little* like MS not offering a way to upgrade-in-place from Exchange 2007 to 2010; while it could be technically possible to code an upgrade path it just isn’t really worth the development investment. While WP8 has a bunch of cool new features (that I will no doubt enjoy when my existing 2yr contract is up) none of them are really ‘must haves’ for me. The new Start Screen is VERY nice and we’re getting that in 7.8.

    • Please don’t “very respectfully” disagree! It’s good to have debate. I note that Nokia thinks that they’re doing enough for Lumia customers… and that the speaker would still recommend buying an 800 or 900. I don’t see how their sales attempt would be successful unless they drop their prices significantly. Good as the Lumia phones are, I don’t think I would buy one for the price I originally paid in the knowledge that no upgrades are possible and that the phone is now a dead duck. I also worry that although Microsoft has lined up support from other companies like HTC for Windows Phone, their decision not to permit upgrades will heap further woes on Nokia’s head and force them into bankruptcy, which would then impact innovation on the Windows Phone platform. Overall, it just looks like a brain-dead decision, even if we can continue to use the phones that we have for the next few years. After all, part of being a geek is running the latest O/S, isn’t it?


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