BinaerForceOne´s take on Windows Phone 7.8 vs. Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 7.8 and 8 Start Screen

Windows Phone 8 Developer Summit is finally over and has many early adopters who recently purchased a second generation device left unsatisfied, to say the least. As an early adopter myself who bought a Nokia Lumia 900 about 8 days ago I can fully understand the rage that is going through the community. But I still have some common sense left that tries to find explanations for why Microsoft chose to take the decision the way they did.

First of all Windows Phone hasn’t been the top seller many of us would have liked to see it becoming ever since its release in October 2010. WP’s marketshare is still low enough that Microsoft is willingly taking the risk of pissing people off who already bought into their still new ecosystem. But who are those people who feel let down by Microsoft? Is it the average customer that has just jumped on the smartphone bandwagon? Or is it rather the tech savvy geek who is never really satisfied with what he currently owns and is always longing for newer, better hardware and more features? My assumption is that in at least 7 times out of 10 it’s the latter. And I bet that 3 or 4 of these 7 would have bought a newer device anyways when it hits the marketplace. Even if their current devices would have been upgraded to Apollo.

But why did Microsoft take that risk in the first place anyways? From my understand they didn’t even have a choice to take a different path. When they realised that Windows Mobile was going down big time, it was pretty much too late as Apple and Google already had taken control over the mobile market. What Microsoft needed to do was two things:

  1. Come up with something so different from everything else currently available and unique in many ways, that it would be noticed and gain some traction even though it would lack many features commonly available on competing platforms.
  2. They needed to do it as quickly as humanly possible in order to not let the already existing gap between them and their competitors become even bigger.

Besides the fact that hardware that was available when Microsoft began development of Windows Phone wasn’t by far as good as it is today and thus most definitely not even capable of running an NT based kernel, what was Microsoft supposed to do other than taking an existing and as being reliably proven system (aka Windows CE) and give it an overhaul?

From a business point of view it’s the only way that makes sense to me. From a consumer point of view though I have to admit that I’m of course not actually happy with what was announced yesterday. Even though I have to admit that it was a Summit meant for developers which of course unvealed mainly things relevant to these. It has yet to be announced what features both, WP7.8 and WP8 will bring to the consumers. I still believe that WP7.8 will not be all about the redesigned homescreen. Being a bit speculative here I assume that every single feature that Win CE and our single core Snapdragon CPUs are capable of, will be delivered with this update.

To sum things up: am I pissed off? Do I feel screwed by Microsoft (and Nokia)? Certainly. Does this mean I close my eyes before things that were pretty obvious and most definitely inevitable? Heck no! What Microsoft announced yesterday may feel like a slap in the face for many, but they couldn’t really have done it any other way. And as a matter of fact: I enjoyed Windows Phone 7.x and my Lumia 900 before yesterday. How the hell could that Summit have changed that? It didn’t. I still enjoy the experience of WP on my device. And I will continue to do so for as long as it may take until I can get my hands on a dedicated Windows Phone 8 device.

Just a quick last note before I save this post and have it published. Many WP users are pretty much concerned with the marketplace situation that is ahead of us. Sure, Microsoft promised that all existing apps will run just fine on Windows Phone 8. But what will happen to people who use Windows Phone 7.8 then?
Without diving too deep in technical aspects, Windows Phone 8, regardless of the new kernel, still supports XAML and C# (aka managed code) which was, is and will be absolutely sufficient for most apps. All these apps should run without any issues on WP7.x as well and thus certainly be available on this particular marketplace. Apps that make use of WP8’s newer hardware or are natively coded won’t run though. That again is speculation as there’s no WP8 SDK available right now to play around with. Once it’s available will see if there are differences or not.

That’s it, I’m done. Call me a blind fanboy, but I still believe Microsoft took the right decision. As unpopular and fucked up it may seem. Period.

Comments 3
  1. Right decision to switch to the NT Kernel? Sure. Right decision to drop all customers so far? No way! WP7 is a good system and it’s getting even better with WP7.8, but it’s no compensatory for the real WP8. I bought a HD2, and after 2 month I got the info “no WP7 Update”. No technical reason, the XDA Developers brought a stable and fast WP7 Rom, the only reason for not updating the HD2 was Microsoft didn’t want to. And now, I’ve bought a Lumia 800 about 2 or 3 month ago. Yesterday I heard “no WP8 Update”. Why? All WP7 Devices are using similar hardware like the Snapdragon CPUs and button layouts. I think, they all have different cameras, but how many Mango devices were launched in the last year? 10? 15? I don’t know, but it can’t be that difficult to include this couple of hardwarelayouts to the damn kernel. I have no problem not getting any fancy NFC features. Thats hardwarelimitation of my Lumia 800, but I have a big problem not getting any further appsupport. I don’t think all developers will switch to WP8 only apps, but I think there will be a huge amount of apps, released for Windows 8/RT till the end of the year. Many of them will come to WP8, and not to WP7.8. Today, my Lumia is not worse than a week ago, but they stole it shiny and bright future Microsoft and Nokia told me about for at least a year. A future I believed in.
    One last point: Microsoft dropped it’s smartphonearchitecture 2 years ago. They drop their architecture this year. It’s seems to be an element of Microsoft strategy. Do you believe I’ll buy an Windows RT Tablet in about 2 years?

    1. I understand that you are angry. We will get an update to WP 7.8, and we still do not know what other features besides the Start Screen it will contain. I asume that some apps will be also written for WP 7.8, and it is clearly to early to tell anything on that.

      I recommend really to calm down, as we will get more Information later this summer. Let us hope all the best.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your view! What was Microsoft supposed to do, continue to produce devices that the average user just won’t buy? We have to remember that these current market share percentages won’t allow for Windows Phone to exist in the future. I care more about the future of Windows Phone than just whether our 1st and 2nd generation devices get the full update. I think WP 7.5 is still an INCREDIBLE OS and will be enjoyed until I get a WP8 device, which hopefully will be soon after its released. I’m one of those people you described who will get all the devices just because I can’t help it! I am satisfied with WP 7.5 but want to experience WP8 as well. I would have bought a WP8 device even if our current devices got a full update just to experience the newer hardware.

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