Windows Phone 8 is here, along with a wide range of new and exciting hardware, all ready to potentially take the mobile world by storm during the next few months. But what about all those people who own a Windows Phone 7 device, who aren’t due for an upgrade or simply want to hang on to their perfect usable phones for a while longer?
Microsoft has softened the blow of its abandonment with the promise of Windows Phone 7.8, a software update that will bring the new Start screen and a few other features to those phones running Windows Phone 7. Except since it was discussed back in the summer, Microsoft has said little more about the release, preferring to ask for our input on the features we’d like to see included instead.
Maybe it was a bit too much to ask for the release date to be revealed during Windows Phone 8’s big moment earlier this week, but a throwaway sentence wouldn’t have hurt, and would have provided some relief to those expecting it. Instead, Microsoft remained quiet.
A glimmer of hope may have just appeared though, along with some welcome news on a few more of its features too. A post made on the official Italian Windows Phone Facebook page provided some more information, saying (translated, obviously) “The upgrade to 7.8 will be available for versions 7.0 and 7.5 shortly after the marketing of the Windows Phone 8 devices.”
We can take that to mean that once Windows Phone 8 is happily on sale, Windows Phone 7.8 can be let out to play, which could indicate its release will take place before the end of November.
The post continues to say that in addition to the new Start screen, 7.8 will bring with it Xbox SmartGlass, calendar sharing (which could mean the new Rooms feature) and Xbox Music.
But only on new hardware?
Chinese blog WPDang.com also puts the release date around the same time, stating that it’ll be out four to six weeks after Windows Phone 8 goes on sale, however it says only brand-new phones — perhaps the Lumia 510 for example — will have the software installed at that time, and the over-the-air update will arrive later.
No doubt Windows Phone 7 owners will be keen for the first version of events to come true, but sadly previous form tells us that even if it does, the rollout will be slow. We won’t know for sure until the official word comes though, so we’ve contacted Microsoft for information, and will update here if we get a response.
Updated 10/31/2012 at 11am:
Microsoft has responded to our request for information regarding Windows Phone 7.8’s release, saying:
“While we haven’t provided an official rollout date, you can expect more information of 7.8 to be available in the coming weeks. Additionally, existing customers will get the new Start screen via the Windows Phone 7.8 update and continue to have access to the Windows Phone Store with more than 120,000 apps, as well as all the services that make up the Windows Phone experience: SkyDrive, Xbox Music, Xbox LIVE, Office Mobile, Bing, and third-party services. These services will continue to evolve and provide value to existing Windows Phone customers.”
Article originally published 10/31/2012 at 6:30 PT.