No Windows Phone 8 upgrade for you?

Questions have popped up over whether Windows Phone 7 devices will be upgradable to Windows Phone 8 (aka Apollo). Microsoft isn't saying one way or the other.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
Will Mango device owners be unable to upgrade to Apollo?
Will Mango device owners be unable to upgrade to Apollo? Josh Miller/CNET

Will Windows Phone 7 device owners be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8? Sources are saying no, while Microsoft itself has yet to provide a straight answer.

The controversy erupted yesterday after a Microsoft developer evangelist stated in an interview that all current Windows Phone 7 (aka Mango) devices will receive the Windows Phone 8 (aka Apollo) upgrade, as reported by WMPower User. The interview was conducted in Portuguese, so the English translation may not be exact. But the translated comments seemed to confirm the upgrade path.

However, some folks are saying there will be no Windows Phone 8 upgrade for devices running Windows Phone 7.

A "trusted source close to Microsoft" shared the "no upgrade" tidbit with the Verge late yesterday. That echoed a report last month from blogging site Unwired in which device makers at Mobile World Congress were purposely mum about Windows Phone upgrade plans.

Mary Jo Foley of CNET sister site ZDNet expressed concerns last month over the lack of an upgrade path from Mango. Foley's own sources have told her that Apollo won't be pushed out to existing Windows Phone users. And Microsoft itself made no mention of any upgrades in a conversation with Foley.

Microsoft has so far been cagey about the controversy, releasing the following statement earlier today to CNET that focused on application compatibility rather than device upgrades:

"We have stated publicly that all apps in our marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases."

Another Microsoft spokesperson confirmed with CNET that the company has no additional information to share beyond its earlier statement.

If the sources are correct, why won't Mango devices be able to handle Apollo?

The answer seems to lie in the hardware requirements, according to Unwired.

Windows Phone 7 currently supports only single-core processors and WVGA screens. But sources say that Microsoft will jump to dual-core chips and higher-resolution screens in Windows Phone 8. Foley also tweeted about the inability to upgrade, saying she thinks the platform changes from Mango to Apollo will be too deep.

So that could mean that all those people now buying Nokia Lumia handsets and other Windows Phone 7 devices will be out of luck when Apollo lifts off, likely later this year.

Potential Lumia 900 buyers unconcerned about the Windows Phone 8 upgrade path will now find the phone once again in stock at AT&T. The carrier ran out of stock earlier this week due to heavy demand for the new phone. The black model is once again available via the company's online store, though the cyan version remains out of stock.

Nokia Lumia 900 (photos)

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Nokia has seen healthy sales for its Lumia 900, showing that Windows Phone may be starting to gain a bit of traction in the market dominated by Apple and Android. But will the inability to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 affect sales? Not at this point.

The upgrade path, or lack thereof, has yet to be confirmed by Microsoft. And if sales do start to take a tumble because of this one issue, then it's a safe bet Microsoft and Nokia will step in to make sure current Mango owners aren't left out in the cold.

Microsoft has revealed little about Windows Phone 8. But a video leaked in February unveiled support for multicore processors, four different screen resolutions, a removable microSD card, and near-field communications.

Updated 9:30 a.m. PT with response from Microsoft.