Microsoft is playing the long game with Windows Phone, but we’re slowly getting a glimpse of the company’s plans through 2012. The roadmap above, obtained by WMPoweruser, shows two updates are indeed scheduled for 2012 with the codenames Tango and Apollo. We’ve been hearing these codenames for a while, but this offers a clearer, though still incredibly vague, idea of each update’s goals.
Tango: Though Mango introduced a slate of cool new features and patched a lot of annoying holes with Windows Phone, its counterpart, Tango, will presumably bring Windows Phone to lower-end handsets with cheaper prices. This update will likely be taken advantage of by Nokia, which makes a healthy living delivering low-end handsets to the masses in countries all around the globe. If Tango actually runs well on cheap hardware, it could open up a good niche for Microsoft and its partners. Android runs on lower-end hardware, but not particularly well or with any sense of style and the new version of Android (version 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”), has default requirements like an HD screen, which put it out of reach for most budget phones. The update will likely be teased at CES or Mobile World Congress in January and February and has a release date of “Q2 2012.”
Apollo: Though we’re hoping that Microsoft will add support for dual-core processors, NFC, and 4G LTE in early 2012, the release date of Apollo does not bode well for our hopes. According to the leaked roadmap above, which is by no means definitive and could even be a fake for all we know, The Apollo update will finally add support for “superphones” and “business,” making the OS more “competitive” and increasing sales. This sounds great, except that it’s release is “Q4 2012,” meaning we won’t get it until at least October of next year. Microsoft’s definition of “superphones” will also come under pressure. Unlike Google, which lets manufacturers run a muck with Android, Microsoft regulates the specs of devices that run Windows Phone. By late 2012, Android devices will probably have quad-core processors and super HD screens, with some devices hinting at a future of Octo-core and who knows what else by early 2013. Simply adding support for dual-core processors and LTE won’t be enough.
Microsoft needs to get ahead of the Android specs game somehow or it will never have the OS of choice for those who want the latest and greatest. Andy Lees, former head of Windows Phone at Microsoft, hinted at this in an interview in October. So far, Windows Phone hasn’t really been the best at anything. Those who value interface are still moving to iOS and those who want the best hardware are still picking Android.
Perhaps Microsoft is timing all of this to coincide with Windows 8. But can it afford to wait another year without support for dual-core devices or LTE? Even AT&T and Sprint will have LTE before Q4 2012, according to their plans.