Microsoft Explains Windows Phone Fragmentation, Connection Between WP8 and Windows 8
With the Windows Phone Summit coming to a close last week, we got to see what Windows Phone 8 has in store for us, come later this year. Unfortunately, the WP8 update will not be rolled out to existing WP7 and WP7.5 handsets - the initial official statement puts the blame squarely on the hardware requirements for WP8. However, Mashable's chat with Microsoft’s senior marketing manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, has revealed more details.
GSMArena - The new core that enables so many cool features (multiple CPU cores, better graphics) is shared with Windows 8 RT (based on Windows NT) and not Windows Phone 7 (based on Windows CE, same as Windows Mobile).
Microsoft’s senior marketing manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, says that it's not impossible to port WP8 on older devices, but the cost of doing that would be very high and the benefit very little - WP8 enables multi-core support, higher resolution screens, NFC, microSD card support and so on, none of which will make a difference on the legacy hardware.
Instead, a WP7.8 update will facilitate partial WP8 features on existing WP7 and WP7.5 handsets, the most important of which is the new Smart Screen. Meanwhile, Windows Phone 7.5 apps will certainly run on WP8 devices; however, there's no backwards compatibility for WP8 apps due to the fact that these apps will require better hardware. Check out the video of an early build of Windows Phone 7.8 running on the Lumia 900 below:
Microsoft has already posted a dedicated page, with more details on the upcoming WP7.8 update.
Of course, Microsoft has very good reason for the apparent shortchanging of its WP7 user base - the Shared Windows Core. This common core runs through both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 (along with Windows 8 RT), as opposed to Windows Phone 7, which is based on the older Windows CE platform. With the Shared Windows Core, it makes it a lot easier to share code from one platform to another. For example, developers who used to spend time to test compatibility will now have a lot more time freed up to pursue creating a good app usage experience. If you recall, the driver addressing module along with other basics like networking, media handling and more are part of the Shared Windows Core across the various operating systems.
As such, it doesn’t take much effort to re-compile a particular app for each specific platform. This is why Microsoft is confident that the quantity of it apps available in its ecosystem is only going to accelerate sharply with the availability of Windows Phone 8 as we learned from Augusto Valdez, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone, Microsoft.
Together with its Metro UI propagating a seamless usage experience across various operating systems and screen types, it will indirectly compel users to pick up the Windows platform eventually for a tighter integration - or at least that’s the unofficial plan from our understanding.