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Windows Phone 7.8 to get new colours, lock screen, ringtones

New features have emerged for Windows Phone 7.8, including new colours, a new lock screen and custom ringtones.

With the launch of Windows Phone 8, the previous crop of Microsoft-powered phones became a gaggle of lame ducks. But Microsoft isn't ready to take those ducks round the back of the barn to shoot them just yet, with new features emerging for the update to Windows Phone 7.8.

Hopelessly mixed farmyard animal analogies aside -- animalogies? -- phones such as the Nokia Lumia 800 can expect new colours, a new lock screen and custom ringtones, according to a leak from Nokia.

Training materials from the Finnish phone-fancier, spotted by WPcentral, reveal that the lock screen can update automatically with information from an app of your choice. You also get 20 new theme colours for the colourful squares on your home screen, called live tiles.

If you fancy turning your favourite tune into your ringtone, there's an MP3 editor to create custom ringdings from your MP3s. You also get Bluetooth file-sharing and some security upgrades to Internet Explorer 9.

Microsoft's Italian compagnos also took to Facebook to reveal Windows Phone 7.8 will include the new Rooms feature found in WP8. A Room is a space for contacts in a group to communicate -- family, say, or specific groups of friends.

The first Windows Phone 8 phones went on sale this month, including the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 and the HTC 8X. New features that won't trickle down to old phones include Internet Explorer 10, camera improvements, voice control and even some apps. 

But the biggest hand-me-down from Windows Phone 8 is the new flexible homescreen, which will let older phones resize live tiles to fit on more apps. Today's Windows Phones update to 7.8 at some stage in the first quarter of the new year, if you haven't lost interest and got yourself a new phone in the meantime.

Are current Windows Phones worth hanging onto, or has Microsoft left them high and dry? Can Windows Phone 8 claw out a niche for itself alongside Android and the iPhone? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.