How A Lack Of An Upgrade Path Could Hurt Windows Phone.. And Even Possibly Windows 8

As Onuora talked about just a few days earlier, it seems that Windows Phone 8 is not going to have an upgrade path for current Windows Phone 7 users. I’m not going to rehash this too much because he already wrote a really good piece about it.

What I want to talk about is what this kind of news could do to Windows 8 and its tablet launch and Windows Phone going forward.

If you can’t upgrade to Windows Phone 8, I’ll say I won’t be that surprised, especially with all the massive change supposedly heading to it (such as possibly being built on NT instead of CE?). I might sympathize with MS if not offering an upgrade is because of true hardware limitations in the way Windows Phone 7 worked, but even if that proves true, it won’t matter to most consumers.

It shows a lack of foresight in developer Windows Mobile 6’s successor and shows that MS hasn’t learned enough about what it takes to build a great mobile OS. Another problem is it will likely create fragmentation issues. Microsoft has talked about how Windows Phone 7 apps will work fine in Windows Phone 8, but what about apps built around WP8, will they be downwards compatible with the older phone?

Hopefully, if not we will see fragmentation problems as a result, I’d wager. Still, Android has many devices that can’t upgrade and it still does okay, right? True enough, I’m not saying this will be the nail in the coffin for Windows Phone, but it will certainly be another black mark against an otherwise brilliant platform.

Will it affect the decision of the Microsoft loyal, no, but for those that are torn between platforms, it might turn them away from even considering Microsoft’s mobile OS.

It’s also important to consider how this could impact Windows 8 tablet reception. Okay, Windows 9 is likely at least 2-3 years away, but it is always good to think about the future. While it isn’t a major deal for everyone, some of us like to think about the future now.

Will Windows 8 ARM (RT) tablets have upgrade restriction problems too, or will Windows 9 RT work just fine with it? Also are there planned shared features and stuff between Windows Phone and Windows 8, will WP7 integrate as well with Windows 8 as the new version?

I’m fairly certain Windows 8 RT will have upgrade paths, and even if it doesn’t, that’s 2-3 years away, at the least. So why care? It’s about customer perception, and not allowing upgrades in smartphones could further damage Microsoft’s reputation in the mobile/tablet world.

Still, MS hasn’t officially said FOR FACT that it won’t offer Windows Phone 8 upgrade paths. On devices that are older, it would be shocking if they didn’t. For phones that came out in 2011 and 2012 though, an upgrade path is pretty important.

What do you think, is an upgrade path important? If WP7 doesn’t have an upgrade option to WP8, will this in any way affect your decisions regarding adoption of a Windows 8 tablet?

Is the Internet worrying for nothing and WP8 will indeed be an upgrade option?

Share your thoughts below.

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