Nokia and Microsoft have finally publically addressed consumers questions as to whether current generation phones [such as the “premier” Nokia Lumia 900 released some two months ago to great fanfare] will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8 or not. While Microsoft has been publicly silent about this [presumably to preserve current device sales] Nokia has more than a few times teased that the device will continue to receive updates going forward. While technically true, it is however not an emphatic and clear, “no they will not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.”
Nonetheless, Nokia apparently does feel that they are doing “more than enough” for their customers. All current 7 and 7.5 Windows Phones will be getting what amounts to a cosmetic upgrade called Windows Phone 7.8 in the distant and as yet undetermined future.
- Start screen. The Windows Phone 7.8 Starts screen will be changed to look like that of Windows Phone 8. It will fill the entry screen with tiles, and not leave a strange “white space” gutter on the right side, as does Windows Phone 7.x. (This was apparently the source of some great number of user complaints, the theme being that Windows Phone doesn’t completely take advantage of its onscreen real estate. Commoners.)
- Tile customization. Windows Phone 7.8 will now support three tile sizes, just like Windows Phone 8, and not two like the current version. And apps can be written to support any of the three sizes, giving the user the ability to choose between them (as is done with Windows 8’s live tiles). In addition to the current Small (square) and Large (rectangular) sizes, Windows Phone 7.8 and 8 will also support a new Smaller size, which is a fingertip-sized square that is one-fourth the size of a small Tile. Mix and match as you please.
- Windows Update. Windows Phone 7.8 will be delivered directly to all Windows Phone users, bypassing the carriers. You will be able to download and install Windows Phone 7.8 over Wi-Fi, at home or wherever else, and install this update. This type of updating will be made available in Windows Phone 8, as well, as given my long, loud, and lengthy complaining about the lack of such updating in Windows Phone 7.x, you won’t be surprised, maybe, to discover that Microsoft jokingly calls this “the Paul Thurrott feature” internally.
The Verge sat with Nokia’s Kevin Shields to find out if the company is doing enough for its existing Lumia users.
"I definitely think it’s more than enough. I think that ultimately your typical customer probably isn’t all that aware of this upgrade thing," he says, referring to news about Windows Phone 8. Shields says he holds Nokia accountable for ensuring that the company delivers on its promises with its Lumia range. "I definitely think with products like the Lumia 900, where a consumer walks in and buys that product they’re getting great value and they’re getting a great offering that’s gonna have a long lifetime of innovation.I FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT RECOMMENDING THE PRODUCT."
I find this disingenuous at best. If Nokia truly felt that its users didn’t care about upgrades and keeping their device relevant through a two year carrier contract they would have been clear and honest from the moment of release. It is inconceivable that Nokia didn’t realize that their hardware was going to be entirely incapable of running Windows Phone 8.
I suppose with the launch of Windows Phone 8 OS and accompanying devices slated for release at the end of the year, we will see if sales of the current generation devices plummet. If not, then perhaps Nokia is correct in thinking consumers don’t care.
On a more positive note though, Nokia cannot be accused of not making an effort for owners of its own devices. Nokia’s Kevin Shields did announce a variety of Nokia built apps that will be released in the coming weeks.
This new camera app enhances your smartphone’s camera considerably. It adds new settings that will allow you to take pictures that you’ve never been able to take before.
- Smart Group Shot: Capture great group shots in just one attempt by choosing the best faces from a burst
- Action Shot: Capture fast-moving action shots with just one click and significantly improved shooting speed
- Panorama: This new control feature makes it easy to capture beautiful panorama shots by finding the image in the sequence
- Self-timer: Set up your Lumia on a stand and get yourself into more photos
Tired of writing out phone numbers and contact information to pass onto a friend? This new app is a quick and easy way of sharing your contacts via SMS or email.
Counters is an innovative way of monitoring your Lumia usage and even setting up limits. This is particularly useful where you have call-time or data allowances from your operator and to make sure you do not incur extra costs.
Contact Share and Counters will in Marketplace for China by June 22nd. It will be available for all other countries by July.
Many of us now have several devices, such as a TVs or Blu-Ray players, connected to a network. PlayTo will allow you to share pictures, videos and music from your Lumia smartphone to other DLNA –enabled devices on your network.
PlayTo will be in Marketplace globally by June 22nd.
It’s not just new functionality and features to look forward to. There’s fun, too.
From the autumn, you will be able to download Zynga’s world-beating games, Words With Friends and Draw Something, for your Lumia.
For a couple of months after launch, both these games will be available in the Nokia Collection before releasing generally on Windows Phone Marketplace.
So was this seedy of Nokia to keep this information secret? “Seedy” may be too harsh, but for a company that touts itself in such high regard as “consumer focused,” I do wish they had been more forthcoming.