Here we go again: will current Windows Phones upgrade to 8.1?

By Kip Kniskern | In News | Posted October 30, 2013

If you remember all the way back to June of 2012, when Microsoft hemmed and hawed and finally announced that indeed Windows Phone 7.5 devices wouldn’t be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8 (but would take a Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade as a sort of a stopgap), then you’re already familiar with some new speculation coming from ComputerWorld today.

Noting that a number of current Windows Phones are getting quite the price discount this week, ComputerWorld started asking some questions and, as usual, didn’t get any straight answers, but rather some hints that Windows Phone 8.1 may not be suitable for some (or even all?) current Windows Phones:

Asked whether Nokia’s WP8 phones, including the Lumia 1020 and the low-cost Lumia 520, would be upgradeable to version 8.1, Nokia issued two differing statements to Computerworld just two hours apart early Wednesday. The first emailed statement from Nokia spokeswoman Nina Ratavaara said, “We don’t comment on future products, but Microsoft has confirmed that smartphones running Windows Phone 8 will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8.1.”

Two hours later, she corrected the first statement to say only that “Microsoft has confirmed that smartphones running Windows Phone 8 will be upgradeable.”

Microsoft said that it would not share its future plans, but then added that the Windows Phone OS “is upgradeable … If or how individual devices are upgraded has not been announced.”

Now there are a couple of things to note about the post, for one thing we’re finding it a bit of a stretch to think that Windows Phone discounts are anything other than an attempt to jumpstart some sales. Nokia did come out with some hopeful sales numbers this week, but if you’ll notice, the good news centers around sales of the low price Nokia 520, and Nokia didn’t say anything about sales of the high end Lumia 1020, which hasn’t been exactly flying off shelves.

It’s also worth noting that the expectations are for Windows Phone 8.1 to be a significant upgrade, bringing the Windows Phone operating system closer in line to Windows RT and Windows itself. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that older phones won’t be able to run the latest OS. While it’s no fun to have an outdated phone that’s still under contract, phones have a decidedly different life cycle than computers, and rather than holding on for dear life to that XP desktop, most users can’t wait to get the latest and greatest phone, even if it means paying a premium.

Still, here we are again with Microsoft playing the smoke and mirrors game once again, unable to provide its users with a straight answer to a simple question. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, eh?

Posted October 30th, 2013 at 11:51 pm