Windows Phone: the 7.8 “problem”

78 teched NZThis weekend, there’s been a flurry of activity and interest centering around Windows Phone 7.8, the promised but as yet not delivered update to previous generation (Windows Phone 7.5) phones.  Paul Thurrott started things off with a bit of a weekend rant about Microsoft’s lack of openness about what’s going on with the update, which was announced in June along with Windows Phone 8.

While it may have made Paul feel better, it also fueled a bit of hand wringing, as sites like Business Insider picked up on the FUD.

For the record, here’s what Joe Belfiore wrote in a blog post announcement back in June:

Windows Phone…7.8!
The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”
Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

Belfiore was pretty clear that the 7.8 update would be coming “sometime after Windows Phone 8 is released”, so we’re not sure why Thurrott was expecting it at the Windows Phone 8 launch:

I simply assumed that Microsoft would silently ship the WP 7.8 update, over the air, and to all Windows Phone 7.5 users, on or before the day that WP 8 shipped.


We’re also not sure where Thurrott got the idea that Windows Phone 7.8 was a “mythical, never again mentioned release”.  Microsoft hasn’t been gushing over the 7.8 release, preferring instead to concentrate on selling Windows Phone 8 devices, as they rightly should, but they’ve certainly been talking about 7.8.  Microsoft talked about Windows Phone 7.8 at Tech Ed New Zealand in early September, and we’ve been hearing a steady stream of unofficial Windows Phone 7.8 news, including leaked Nokia materials detailing what’s coming in the interim update.

Windows Phone 7.8 is far from mythical, and in fact, new reports rumors have the update coming officially as soon as Wednesday.  And if you can’t wait til then, Brad Sams over at details XDA’s efforts to bring 7.8 to your phone today, if you’re willing to do a bit of hacking.  Kind of hard to do with a mythical update, no?