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No Windows Phone 8 upgrade for current devices

Microsoft's upcoming mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, won't work on current Windows phones, including that Nokia Lumia 900.

Though this Nokia Lumia 900 sports the new start screen, it won't be upgradable to WP8.
Josh Miller/CNET

Well, it's official.

Although Microsoft's newly unveiled Windows Phone 8 boasts exciting features like more customization options and integration with voice-over IP, one unpleasant suspicion we had about the new mobile OS has been confirmed: current Windows Phone devices won't be able to upgrade to WP8.

We've mentioned that possibility before here, here, and here. But we still can't help feel a bit disappointed and frustrated by Microsoft's confirmation today.

For one thing, this is quite unlike Microsoft's current tack. When Mango first launched last year, the update was pretty much available around the same time, cross-device and cross-carrier. True, the "new" Windows Phone broke from Windows Mobile devices, but it was understood that these two platforms were to be completely separate entities.

Cohesion pleases users, and the lack thereof upsets them. Just look at the protests that device updates get when staggered across the Android phones, since they depend on the carrier and the manufacturer for the green light. This leads to customers wondering when (or if) they'll be next, and mobile journalists writing about each and everysingleupgrade.

In addition, Microsoft tirelessly pushed the idea that its saving grace, the Nokia Lumia 900, was the next big thing in smartphones. However, the fact that the Lumia 900 -- as well as another heavy-hitter, the HTC Titan II -- won't be able to update will undoubtedly leave some owners of these devices feeling hung out.

True, Windows Phone 8 isn't out just yet and current devices will at least be able to get the new start screen in Microsoft's 7.8 update, but it's unfortunate that Microsoft rendered these great phones "outdated" underachievers in one fell swoop.

Without the software update, potential customers will basically have no reason to snag a Lumia 900, a Titan II, or any other Windows Phone device for that matter, until Windows Phone 8 is available. Though sales for these units aren't record-breaking, they have been steady. And today's news may stop sales momentum in its tracks.

So why the snub?
Microsoft said that a lot of the Windows Phone 8 updates are intrinsically linked to hardware. The OS's support for multi-core processors, for instance, won't work on today's single-core phones.

While it's completely understandable that the company simply had no choice but to move forward with these welcome and highly demanded updates, it's a pity that the current batch of solid smartphones (and their owners) will be left behind.

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