A few days back, Microsoft posted the support lifecycle for their Windows Phone devices, both those running version 7.8, and newer devices running Windows Phone 8. If you’re familiar with lifecycle patterns at all, these numbers seem pretty reasonable. Windows Phone 7.8 will continue to be supported until September 9th, 2014. The newer WP8 actually ends earlier, in July of 2014.
While no official announcement about an update to WP8 has been made, the chances are that there will be an update to those devices either later this year, or possibly the beginning of next year. Of course, the widely reported conclusion is far different than what actually makes sense, in that some are reporting that WP8 will be abandonware July 2014, meaning your phone will be orphaned like an Android device in under a year if you buy it in August 2013.
That just doesn’t make sense though.
For example, I bought a Windows Phone in October of 2010. I received my updates in a timely manner from my carrier. Barring any additional version updating, that phone from 2010 will still get support until September of 2014. This is true whether you have a Samsung Focus on Rogers, an LG Quantum on Bell or an LG 900 on Telus.
Of COURSE, support for 7.0 ended a while ago, but that’s irrelevant, because all those phones received the 7.8 update, as they should. Some don’t consider much of an update, even though it was the only update that made changes to the main UI, unlike 7.1 and 7.5. Even if one is of that mindset, according to MS’s versioning, it certainly is, in that update extends the support of that device.
In short, a phone that shipped in October of 2010 is getting just shy of 4 years of official support.
If Microsoft never does another update beyond 7.8, well, they’ve supported the hardware for basically 4 years, which is a pretty decent life span for a mobile device. That’s twice as long as a typical 2 year US contract, or one year longer than a 3 year Canadian contract.
To put that in perspective, the LG 900 came around the same time as the HTC Desire Z. Like just about every other Android phone from that era, updates stopped with Gingerbread 2.3.3, which came out only 4 months after the Z, though the update wasn’t released until later, if they were lucky to get it at all.
In comparison, the iPhone 4 did get the latest update to the OS, minus some features given the older hardware, which is to be expected.
NOTE: this ignores xda-devs and other workarounds – in THAT case, the HTC HD2 is clearly the best phone ever made, because you can run anything you want on it.
IF MS does release one last number update to the 7.x line, which I doubt, then that too would in all likelyhood get 18 months of support, since it’s highly unlikely that MS would release a numbered upgrade and give it ZERO months of support.
As for WP8, it’s 99.9% likely that there will be a point upgrade for them (Blue or 8.1, 8.5, who knows), and at THAT point, the new version, and all phones running that, will probably get 18 months of support, unless you once again happen to believe that MS is going to release and point upgrade and provide ZERO months of support for it.
This falls in line with what MS said way back when WP originally launched in that they’ll support them for 2 years.
Alternatively, I could jump to conclusions like a lot of ‘tech gurus’ out there, and assume that MS, by listing lifecycles now is bailing on the phone market in mid 2014, and will cause all Windows Phones to explode Mission Impossible style at the end of their respective support cycles.