Microsoft caused a bit of a stir earlier this week when it announced that support for Windows Phone 8 will end after a period of 18 months, on July 8, 2014. The revelation instantly led to a flurry of speculation among Windows Phone users, wondering what will happen to their phones after the deadline has expired.
On the face of it, there’s good reason to be concerned. The announcement does mean that Microsoft could abandon its smartphone OS within the next 18 months, but is this really what will happen? Not likely…
Microsoft itself has already moved to ease user’s concerns. Shortly after the announcement and the wave of speculation that followed, Microsoft made the following tweet:
“As we’ve said, one benefit of moving to the Windows core is that Windows Phone 8 is upgradeable.”
And so anyone who is running a Windows Phone 8 device can fully expect to be able to update their phone after the end date is reached, much in the same way as Android and iOS phones can be updated.
In actual fact, the rumors that Windows Phone 8 is going to be abandoned probably stem from the direct connection that users make between their device and the OS that runs on it – most presume that they’re inextricably linked, but from what Microsoft is saying this isn’t actually the case.
Truth be told, Microsoft has always announced expiration dates for its software products. For example, support for Windows XP is ending next month, but this doesn’t mean that devices running it cannot be upgraded to more recent versions of the desktop OS, and the same should be true for Windows phones, so long as hardware requirements are not bumped up too much.
This leads us to the question of what will come next for Windows phones? We’ve heard several rumors in recent months of Windows Phone 9 and Windows Phone Blue (which could well be a code name for the same product), so can we expect to see one of these being released in the next few months?
Only last week, a job advertisement posted by Microsoft specifically mentioned Windows Phone 9 for the first time, while in recent days there has also been speculation that the OS has already been tested on HTC, Nokia and Qualcomm devices.
What isn’t clear is whether Windows Phone 9 and Blue are actually the same product or not. They could well be, but an alternative theory is that Windows Phone Blue is more of an interim update while Microsoft finalizes Windows Phone 9. If that’s the case and Windows Phone Blue comes out later this year, it probably wouldn’t be that radical an update, but would at least keep things ticking over while the Redmond firm moves towards annual updates. However, if Blue and 9 really are the same product, and presuming Microsoft sticks to its current release schedule of rolling out an update every 18 months, we could well see a full-blown Windows 9 by the end of the year.