Last week, Microsoft gave us our first look at Windows Phone 8, its next generation smartphone operating system. A whole bunch of upgrades were announced — some innovative and some playing catch up to Android and iOS — but there was one piece of very sad news: Windows Phone 7.5 users (all current Windows Phones) would not be able to upgrade to the new version. Windows Phone 8 has hardware requirements that are too steep and changes too much about Windows Phone at a core level (it shares a core with Windows 8) to bump current users up. This left a lot of people, especially those who ponied up for a Nokia Lumia 900 (read our Lumia 900 review), feeling left out. Well, fear not. Current users won’t be getting Windows Phone 8, but they will get Windows Phone 7.8, which has the same upgraded Start Screen of 8, which is our favorite new feature.
We’ve always liked Live Tiles, Microsoft’s merger between a widget and an icon, but on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, you can only display eight of them on a screen at any one time. With the new Start Screen, users will be able to expand Live Tiles to take up two slots or shrink them to be a quarter the size of a current Tile. This means far greater customization, personalization, and utility from the Start Screen. We love it.
This is a smart move on Microsoft’s behalf. Though it is still leaving its entire userbase in the dust, they will, at least, get some new fun features to talk about and their phone will look like a new Windows Phone 8 device, which should alleviate some of the annoyance. This is probably better than taking an Apple approach and updating older phones with the new OS whether they will be able to run it properly or not.
Below is a video from Microsoft, which shows the new Start Screen in action.
Just for fun, here’s a video of Hitler getting super upset about his Lumia 900 not getting Windows Phone 8. Thanks to WMPoweruser for the link. This video has some subtitled cursing in it.