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

By Kip Kniskern | Posted October 30, 2013 48 comments

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 While it’s no fun to have an outdated phone that’s still under contract, phones have a decidedly different life cycle than computers, and rather than holding on for dear life to that XP desktop,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
  • http://www.richspalding.com RichSpalding

    This is actually one of the reasons I’ve held off on the 1020. The uncertainty means the circa £500 investment is difficult to justify. From the PR woman’s corrected statement, I’d say its certain lower end models (520) won’t get it.

    • damaster

      I interpret it as she only retracted the part that mentions “Windows Phone 8.1″ because this name has not yet been officially announced nor confirmed by Microsoft.

      If Microsoft somehow decides to call it “Windows Phone 8.5″, then her statement would be wrong. So it could simply be a wording thing and people are reading too much into it.

      • John Rambo

        too much fanboyism? if first statement was so eloborate the second one could also have been close saying that yes WP8 devices will be upgradable to whatever the next iteration is.

    • Johnny Bravo

      Considering the Lumia 520/521 is the best-selling Windows 8 phone on the market, that would seem foolish for Microsoft to overlook them and cater to the more expensive models that didn’t sell as well.

      I’m an MS enthusiast and owner but I’ll openly state that if they overlook the 520/521 owners, it’s their funeral…

  • http://www.richspalding.com RichSpalding

    This is actually one of the reasons I’ve held off on the 1020. The uncertainty means the circa £500 investment is difficult to justify. From the PR woman’s corrected statement, I’d say its certain lower end models (520) won’t get it.

    • damaster

      I interpret it as she only retracted the part that mentions “Windows Phone 8.1″ because this name has not yet been officially announced nor confirmed by Microsoft.

      If Microsoft somehow decides to call it “Windows Phone 8.5″, then her statement would be wrong. So it could simply be a wording thing and people are reading too much into it.

      • John Rambo

        too much fanboyism? if first statement was so eloborate the second one could also have been close saying that yes WP8 devices will be upgradable to whatever the next iteration is.

      • #TeamCortana

        This is EXACTLY what it is.

    • Johnny Bravo

      Considering the Lumia 520/521 is the best-selling Windows 8 phone on the market, that would seem foolish for Microsoft to overlook them and cater to the more expensive models that didn’t sell as well.

      I’m an MS enthusiast and owner but I’ll openly state that if they overlook the 520/521 owners, it’s their funeral…

  • Windows Phone Bruker

    I am expecting that my Nokia Lumia 620 gets WIndows Phone 8.1. The main reason, it’s Windows Phone 8(.1)! You note that Windows Phone 7.5 devices did not get Windows Phone 8, but they got Windows Phone 7.8. They got larger updates, just kept it in the Windows Phone 7 range.

    “The current Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is built on Microsoft’s Windows CE platform, designed for embedded systems with tight memory constraints and slow processors. Windows Phone 8 will instead be built on the Windows NT platform”

    “Microsoft is describing the kernel change as another “reset,” as significant in some ways as the abandonment of Windows Mobile 6.x and the development of Windows Phone 7.”
    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/windows-nt-coming-to-phones-with-windows-phone-8/

    One thing about Windows Phone 7 and 8 is the kernel change. And as arstechnica says it’s another reset as with 6.x and then 7.x, both changing on “whole” numbers.

    I am more worried about Windows Phone 9, but who knows.

    “Current Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to be fully upgradable to Windows Phone 9.”
    http://www.wpcentral.com/windows-phone-9-testing-nokia-htc-and-qualcomm-hardware

  • Windows Phone Bruker

    I am expecting that my Nokia Lumia 620 gets WIndows Phone 8.1. The main reason, it’s Windows Phone 8(.1)! You note that Windows Phone 7.5 devices did not get Windows Phone 8, but they got Windows Phone 7.8. They got larger updates, just kept it in the Windows Phone 7 range.

    “The current Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is built on Microsoft’s Windows CE platform, designed for embedded systems with tight memory constraints and slow processors. Windows Phone 8 will instead be built on the Windows NT platform”

    “Microsoft is describing the kernel change as another “reset,” as significant in some ways as the abandonment of Windows Mobile 6.x and the development of Windows Phone 7.”
    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/windows-nt-coming-to-phones-with-windows-phone-8/

    One thing about Windows Phone 7 and 8 is the kernel change. And as arstechnica says it’s another reset as with 6.x and then 7.x, both changing on “whole” numbers.

    I am more worried about Windows Phone 9, but who knows.

    “Current Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to be fully upgradable to Windows Phone 9.”
    http://www.wpcentral.com/windows-phone-9-testing-nokia-htc-and-qualcomm-hardware

  • Martin Trasteby

    This article makes no sense. Read this sentence over and over again until you understand:

    “Microsoft has confirmed that smartphones running Windows Phone 8 will be upgradeable.”

    • damaster

      It’s all about one’s interpretation. In the sentence above, the key question raised is “upgradeable to what?”

      It could mean “upgradeable to simply the GDR updates we’ve already been getting”, or “upgradeable to WP8.1″, or “upgradeable to some trimmed down version of 8.1 (WP8.05?)”.

      The point is that amended statement from Nokia is very vague and open to questions. What’s more is why did they amend their original statement (which was clear about what it is upgradeable to)?

      • Kk

        Because windows phone 8.1 have not been announced by Microsoft. This is just stupid.

  • Martin Trasteby

    This article makes no sense. Read this sentence over and over again until you understand:

    “Microsoft has confirmed that smartphones running Windows Phone 8 will be upgradeable.”

    • damaster

      It’s all about one’s interpretation. In the sentence above, the key question raised is “upgradeable to what?”

      It could mean “upgradeable to simply the GDR updates we’ve already been getting”, or “upgradeable to WP8.1″, or “upgradeable to some trimmed down version of 8.1 (WP8.05?)”.

      The point is that amended statement from Nokia is very vague and open to questions. What’s more is why did they amend their original statement (which was clear about what it is upgradeable to)?

      • Kk

        Because windows phone 8.1 have not been announced by Microsoft. This is just stupid.

  • http://www.todayinwindows.com/ Ian Aldrighetti

    This is a pointless article, making something out of nothing. We know Microsoft doesn’t talk about future versions of their operating systems, sometimes even when they are announced. They basically removed the “to Windows Phone 8.1″

    Additionally, we know that it is really up to the carrier and manufacturer to determine whether they want to go through the hassle of testing it for the device. I would expect Nokia to upgrade nearly every phone they have, especially the most popular ones. However, I would be less inclined to think HTC would do the same.

    Microsoft just didn’t want to speak for the phone makers to prevent anyone from getting upset when their phone isn’t upgraded or is happening later… They would point to this, saying, “Microsoft said so.”

  • http://www.todayinwindows.com/ Ian Aldrighetti

    This is a pointless article, making something out of nothing. We know Microsoft doesn’t talk about future versions of their operating systems, sometimes even when they are announced. They basically removed the “to Windows Phone 8.1″

    Additionally, we know that it is really up to the carrier and manufacturer to determine whether they want to go through the hassle of testing it for the device. I would expect Nokia to upgrade nearly every phone they have, especially the most popular ones. However, I would be less inclined to think HTC would do the same.

    Microsoft just didn’t want to speak for the phone makers to prevent anyone from getting upset when their phone isn’t upgraded or is happening later… They would point to this, saying, “Microsoft said so.”

  • Jamness

    Pointless article, spreading unnecessary negativity that the platform does not need. Microsoft already said all phones are upgradable to the next version for at least 16 months, especially now that it shares the same kernel as Win8. Why start up stupid rumours like this. Obviously, that spokeswoman is not allowed to say anything for legal purposes.

    • John Rambo

      it was the kernal reason last time and time they might have a new reason atogether which you dont know so stop being a fanboy

  • Jamness

    Pointless article, spreading unnecessary negativity that the platform does not need. Microsoft already said all phones are upgradable to the next version for at least 16 months, especially now that it shares the same kernel as Win8. Why start up stupid rumours like this. Obviously, that spokeswoman is not allowed to say anything for legal purposes.

    • John Rambo

      it was the kernal reason last time and time they might have a new reason atogether which you dont know so stop being a fanboy

  • RATBURL

    Yes it will. There now relax and enjoy

  • RATBURL

    Yes it will. There now relax and enjoy

  • Prayaas

    This is just so wrong. Has any of you ever used a Windows Phone 7.0 device? It was updated to Windows Phone 7.5 without any issues. All the devices and trust me WP7.5 was much bigger an update for WP7 as compared to what WP8.1 is for WP8.
    And anyway, Windows Phone 8 is upgradeable doesn’t raise issues because 8.1 is an update, not an upgrade to the next version. They probably mean the next generation of WP. Even if that doesn’t happen, I hardly care. It will have got enough updates already. But it will. Microsoft announced it that WP8 gets updates through 2016. They can’t just keep releasing 8.8s and 8.9s over and over till 2016.

    • John Rambo

      even WP7.8 is still under support from MS so it can get an update theoritically, but MS isnt even bothered about resolving bugs which 7.8 brought over 7.5

  • Prayaas

    This is just so wrong. Has any of you ever used a Windows Phone 7.0 device? It was updated to Windows Phone 7.5 without any issues. All the devices and trust me WP7.5 was much bigger an update for WP7 as compared to what WP8.1 is for WP8.
    And anyway, Windows Phone 8 is upgradeable doesn’t raise issues because 8.1 is an update, not an upgrade to the next version. They probably mean the next generation of WP. Even if that doesn’t happen, I hardly care. It will have got enough updates already. But it will. Microsoft announced it that WP8 gets updates through 2016. They can’t just keep releasing 8.8s and 8.9s over and over till 2016.

    • John Rambo

      even WP7.8 is still under support from MS so it can get an update theoritically, but MS isnt even bothered about resolving bugs which 7.8 brought over 7.5

  • John

    The reason the comment was changed is that microsoft has not announced windows phone 8.1 yet. Windows Phone 7 was not able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 because they were different operating systems. WP7 to WP8 is a bigger change than from WM6 to WP7.

  • John

    The reason the comment was changed is that microsoft has not announced windows phone 8.1 yet. Windows Phone 7 was not able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 because they were different operating systems. WP7 to WP8 is a bigger change than from WM6 to WP7.

  • jhtanglewood

    You’re quoting a hack job of an article.

    Microsoft has already said that ALL Windows Phone 8 devices WILL upgrade to the next OS release.

    WP 8.1 (or whatever they decide to call it) is merely an update and ALL WP8 DEVICES WILL UPGRADE TO IT.

    To understand why WP7 didn’t upgrade to 8, you will have to understand that Microsoft developed a new kernal system that WP7 devices could not support. The kernal is the same as what Windows 8 & Windows RT run.

    If you actually follow the situation as a whole, it’s easy to see the vision here. Looking at everything MS has said and done, I guarantee that all current Windows Phone 8 devices will upgrade to OS updates for the next 2 years.

    • http://www.theforwardist.com/liveside Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      OK, but since Microsoft made those promises, they’ve written down nearly a billion dollars on a mostly failed Windows RT / Surface initiative, re-orged the company, moved Windows Phone out of it’s E&D silo to become part of Windows, are acquiring Nokia’s phone businesses (a move made more out of necessity than strength), had their CEO announce his (somewhat early and forced) retirement, and managed to have Nokia sell as many phones in a quarter as Apple sold iPhones in a weekend. I don’t think there’s anything to guarantee about what happens next with Windows Phone, or with Microsoft, for that matter.

      • jhtanglewood

        What about any of that makes you assume that current Windows Phones won’t upgrade to the next OS upgrade?

        What about any of that makes you assume that Microsoft will completely redo WP only a year after making major changes?

        Really, think about it. Why would they start completely over? It just doesn’t make any sense from any angle.

        How can you honestly read the original article and think “wow, that’s such sound journalism that i think I’ll basically republish it”, It’s ridiculous. And what’s their supporting evidence? A quote from a customer support agent? LOL

        ZERO INTEGRITY.

        I’ll make a guarantee. One of two things will happen… ALL CURRENT WINDOWS PHONE 8 DEVICES WILL UPGRADE TO THE NEXT OS UPDATE or Microsoft will discontinue WP altogether.

        • John Rambo

          so if MS retracts you reimburse all WP8 owners? the folks at computerworld specifically asked Ms n Nokia’s representatives they could have given a clear answer and put an end to the speculation.

  • jhtanglewood

    You’re quoting a hack job of an article.

    Microsoft has already said that ALL Windows Phone 8 devices WILL upgrade to the next OS release.

    WP 8.1 (or whatever they decide to call it) is merely an update and ALL WP8 DEVICES WILL UPGRADE TO IT.

    To understand why WP7 didn’t upgrade to 8, you will have to understand that Microsoft developed a new kernal system that WP7 devices could not support. The kernal is the same as what Windows 8 & Windows RT run.

    If you actually follow the situation as a whole, it’s easy to see the vision here. Looking at everything MS has said and done, I guarantee that all current Windows Phone 8 devices will upgrade to OS updates for the next 2 years.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      OK, but since Microsoft made those promises, they’ve written down nearly a billion dollars on a mostly failed Windows RT / Surface initiative, re-orged the company, moved Windows Phone out of it’s E&D silo to become part of Windows, are acquiring Nokia’s phone businesses (a move made more out of necessity than strength), had their CEO announce his (somewhat early and forced) retirement, and managed to have Nokia sell as many phones in a quarter as Apple sold iPhones in a weekend. I don’t think there’s anything to guarantee about what happens next with Windows Phone, or with Microsoft, for that matter.

      • jhtanglewood

        What about any of that makes you assume that current Windows Phones won’t upgrade to the next OS upgrade?

        What about any of that makes you assume that Microsoft will completely redo WP only a year after making major changes?

        Really, think about it. Why would they start completely over? It just doesn’t make any sense from any angle.

        How can you honestly read the original article and think “wow, that’s such sound journalism that i think I’ll basically republish it”, It’s ridiculous. And what’s their supporting evidence? A quote from a customer support agent? LOL

        ZERO INTEGRITY.

        I’ll make a guarantee. One of two things will happen… ALL CURRENT WINDOWS PHONE 8 DEVICES WILL UPGRADE TO THE NEXT OS UPDATE or Microsoft will discontinue WP altogether.

        • John Rambo

          so if MS retracts you reimburse all WP8 owners? the folks at computerworld specifically asked Ms n Nokia’s representatives they could have given a clear answer and put an end to the speculation.

  • James Frazer

    Well I see things like this…

    From a hardware perspective, phones released after the recent GDR3 update (Such as the 1520 which is coming soon) should have no problem updating to WP8.1 (which is what it will be called to be in line with standard Windows and RT) as there are no plans for another hardware update any time soon. Older high end devices may be able to update but certainly low end, cheaper devices with low spec hardware will not get the update.

    Personally the Nokia 1520 has everything I have been waiting for except 2 things. The first is WP8.1 which wouldn’t be that much of an issue should MS confirm it to receive the update at a later date. The second however is holding me back until a further future device arrives… and that is the full fat 41MP PureView camera. I know the 1520 will have a 20MP PureView lens but knowing that there are other phones out there already with the full version, that is all that will do, especially when going for the flagship phone.

    So I shall be eagerly awaiting for the device that is the 1520 plus the 2 points I mentioned… Which I would imagine will release with the launch of WP8.1.

  • James Frazer

    Well I see things like this…

    From a hardware perspective, phones released after the recent GDR3 update (Such as the 1520 which is coming soon) should have no problem updating to WP8.1 (which is what it will be called to be in line with standard Windows and RT) as there are no plans for another hardware update any time soon. Older high end devices may be able to update but certainly low end, cheaper devices with low spec hardware will not get the update.

    Personally the Nokia 1520 has everything I have been waiting for except 2 things. The first is WP8.1 which wouldn’t be that much of an issue should MS confirm it to receive the update at a later date. The second however is holding me back until a further future device arrives… and that is the full fat 41MP PureView camera. I know the 1520 will have a 20MP PureView lens but knowing that there are other phones out there already with the full version, that is all that will do, especially when going for the flagship phone.

    So I shall be eagerly awaiting for the device that is the 1520 plus the 2 points I mentioned… Which I would imagine will release with the launch of WP8.1.

  • Simen Mangseth

    Of course Windows Phone 8 will be upgradable to 8.1. Otherwise, nothing would make sense.

  • Simen Mangseth

    Of course Windows Phone 8 will be upgradable to 8.1. Otherwise, nothing would make sense.

  • SoThenISaid…

    … I’m so mad about this, I just hurled my 928 out my car window at 60 on the freeway. It’s just a brick now anyway. I’m going to get a 5s and put KitKat on it!!

    • NightBits

      You know what you are saying right ? ^^ If you can manage to put kitkat on an iPhone 5S show me the trick :)

  • SoThenISaid…

    … I’m so mad about this, I just hurled my 928 out my car window at 60 on the freeway. It’s just a brick now anyway. I’m going to get a 5s and put KitKat on it!!

    • NightBits

      You know what you are saying right ? ^^ If you can manage to put kitkat on an iPhone 5S show me the trick :)

  • #TeamCortana

    This is EXACTLY what it is.