Microsoft has broken the silence regarding Windows Phone 7.8, its ‘sympathy update’ for Windows Phone 7 users who won’t be getting the full version of Windows Phone 8 with which to play. Announced way back in June, it has hardly been discussed since, leaving many wondering whether it would arrive at all.
Now, in a new post published on its Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft has confirmed it’s still in the works, and it will be coming next year. Before that though, new Windows Phone 7 devices will start to sell with Windows Phone 7.8 already installed. Exactly which devices isn’t clear, and Nokia’s newly announced Lumia 510 is still shown as running WP7 on Nokia’s website.
Windows Phone 7.8 will give Microsoft the chance to sell lower priced smartphones in a variety of markets, where high-cost Windows Phone 8 handsets simply wouldn’t be popular. But what about upgrading the phones of all those people who bought Windows Phone 7 when it was the new OS on the block?
Windows Phone 7.8 will bring the new Start screen to older devices, plus new themes and a choice of 20 accent colours, along with the chance to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day on the lockscreen.
According to the vice president of Windows Phone, who penned the post, the team is working closely with hardware partners and networks to get the update approved, and hopes to have it “rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013.” Early next year suggests a release sometime between January and March, but it could easily drag on into the second quarter too.
Most likely, Microsoft will elaborate during Mobile World Congress 2013 in late February, when it’s also expected to talk about Apollo Plus, the first Windows Phone 8 update.