Reaction of the Windows Phone 7.8 Release Schedule

Today, through the Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft announced the release of the Windows Phone 7.8 update for Windows Phone 7.5 devices. The update will be rolling out in the near future, more specifically early 2013. As stated by Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Phone Division, he says,

“We know you’re eager to get the Windows Phone 7.8 update, and we want you to know that we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services.

With that, the immediate reaction of a lot of early adopters has been rather strong and irritated. However, I’d stay focused on the fact that Microsoft will be doing a good job of bringing early adopters with added functionality to their well-served Windows Phone devices. It might not be the full gamut of Windows Phone 8’s features, but a nice compliment to what they already have; a stable and snappy OS with competent hardware that can handle with ease the demands of Windows Phone 7.5 and, hopefully, 7.8.

I would also say that Microsoft will be doing a much better job of bringing along older hardware than Google’s Android and its convoluted update schedule and will-it-update-or-will-it-not lottery that certain devices have to deal with. Coming from those other fragmentation issues, Microsoft’s approach of updating older hardware is a cakewalk compared to Android.

With Windows Phone 7.8, these devices will be getting the start screen feature already present on Windows Phone 8. An expanded range of theme/accent colors to have more control of personalized options, plus the promise of new, noteworthy apps like Angry Birds: Star Wars and Space. Given these features, there is still a lot more life left in the tank for 1st & 2nd generation devices. As a Windows Phone owner (and one that can’t upgrade to Windows Phone 8 until July 2013) I feel good about the 7.8 update, and I think most users will be too. Microsoft should be commended for that.

But

Having said that, there are still plenty of things to be perplexed about Microsoft’s decision to update older hardware until 2013! We can’t praise Microsoft for its willingness to upgrade older hardware and dismiss the pathetic update schedule that it has strung along early adopters. Since its inception, one of the biggest complaints about Windows Phone was its mind numbing, turtle-like pace of bringing updates to devices. Things just took to long.

Microsoft hasn’t changed this at all, and a 2013 release date just adds to the drama by keeping early adopters out of reach of some much needed bug fixes (disappearing keyboard anyone?). All the vile and negativity set forth by today’s announcement is well warranted, and consumers should be peeved. Most of those early adopters have been marketing beacons, praising Redmond’s stylistic OS in the face of a gigantic tide of naysayers. This seems like a slap in the face at is most egregious, a letdown and a loss of faith at its most poignant to those very same representatives.

But the biggest problem Microsoft has towards its customers is this: Ambiguity.

That ambiguity is killing us. Microsoft’s unwillingness to give concrete facts, hard dates and specifics on its updates only leaves customers to speculate as to when things will actually arrive. It doesn’t give any of us a sense of assurances or specifics on when things will get better. Without some form of path to follow, what else are users left to do?

To see how ambiguous Microsoft is about its 7.8 update just look at that very same ‘early 2013’ schedule. What does that say to us? Early compared to what? If it’s a Q1 2013 schedule then that gives Microsoft until March 31st to release WP7.8; four full months before anyone gets an update and at least a full twenty months since build 7.10.7720.68 (a.k.a Mango) rolled out in September of 2011. If its in January of 2013, that still leaves a gap of 17 months between updates.

With that sort of record, its no wonder some early adopters are angry about today’s news, and its that sort of ambiguity that could turn dedicated customers into Apple and Android users.

Let’s hope that with the arrival of Windows Phone 8, and the promise of OTA updates, the qualms and disjointed update schedules the likes of Windows Phone 7.8 are a thing of the past. For those of us still stuck on 7.5, though, it might be a long wait.

What do you think? Is Microsoft’s lack of clear communication regarding its 7.8 update fair for customers? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook.