Last week was probably one of the most eventful weeks for Microsoft ever since its entry into the smartphone industry. The announcement of the Surface tablet followed by an even bigger announcement of Windows Phone 8 update was encouraging news. However, Microsoft did cut a sorry figure when they announced that current Windows Phone users will not be able to able to upgrade on issues of compatibility.
Although there is a lot of resemblance between the latest version of Windows Phone and its predecessor (Windows Phone 7.5), the underlying code that powers the OS has undergone a major overhaul, essentially ruling out the possibility of an update. A layman way of putting it would be, “before there was a phone that ran programs, now there is a computer that can make calls”. The fundamental difference is the substantial change in the architecture inside the outer casing.
The problem actually lies in the fact that Windows Phone has been re-coded in creating Windows Phone 8. The prior versions of the Windows phones were Windows CE based, which was previously the mobile operating system for Windows. This was released even before Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 8 on the other hand is designed using Windows 8’s (Windows NT kernel) core software. While this gives several added benefits to users, vendors and developers, it cannot make the older phones run the new OS. Microsoft has assured customers that the new customizable home screen will be made to Windows Phone 7.8 users as well and that the company will continue supporting the Windows Phone 7 platform.
However, there are many who have questioned Microsoft’s decision on dropping the Windows 8 update on for first and second generation WP devices. Hardware has always been adaptable as was the case with Intel chips being used on both Windows PCs and Macs. So, couldn’t Microsoft have engineered a way to solve this issue?
Greg Sullivan, Senior Marketing Manager for Windows Phone has stated that it is possible for the company to have worked with the issues; however the high investment with minimal return meant that Microsoft took a decision against it. Several new technologies like NFC, multi core processors and higher resolution screens on the existing line of phones wouldn’t be in the company’s best interests.
Windows Phone 8 has a lot of things in common with Windows RT and Windows 8 in comparison to former versions. The similarity exceeds beyond the kernel, as in the case of OSX and iOS. Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 technically share the same core, which means Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices will soon be able to share the same device drivers, files system, networking stack and several other features.