Is it bad for Windows Phone 8 to not support old phones? Not really, but necessary for its future

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OPINION: If you have not heard about the news, Windows Phone 8 has been announced and previewed at its Windows Phone Summit. Better screen resolutions, multi-core chipsets and other new features – all of which will not be present for the existing set of phones. Yes, that means that your Lumia 800 will not get the update. But is that a bad thing?

Well, for existing fans – it’s a big slap in the face. Why should I stick with the platform if you’re basically going to abandon it? Well, you’ll have some features – well, in fact, three. You get a new start menu, tile customisation and, according to Paul Thurrott, an update path bypassing all carriers. The last bit is important, meaning that you’ll get the update and your carrier (or manufacturers) cannot hold back the update.

There is no point in supporting those features when the phone itself doesn’t have it.

But, if you look at your phone, most likely your phone doesn’t have those hardware support features. You don’t have NFC, you don’t have multi-core processors, an SD card slot or even a screen resolution that are 4-inches or more. There is no point in supporting those features when the phone itself doesn’t have it. Ideally – it should have been branded Windows Phone 8 Lite just because to make sure their existing base feels a little bit happy with the fact they could have version 8, just not all of the other features.

I mean, Apple has iOS 5 for all of its current devices – the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, iPad and iPod touch. However, not all of the devices have the same hardware features, so they would have been disabled.

Though, I’m not defending Microsoft. There are things that should have been included in this 7.8 update.

First of all, native Skype integration and Internet Explorer 10. These are software changes. (Though, we may never know, they could be incrementally updating 7.8 with other new features soon – but again, don’t count on it.) The browser is a no brainer – mainly because web technologies keep improving and changing, and you really need to fix that JavaScript rendering engine. If Twitter is redirecting your phone to the feature phones version of the site – you know you have a problem.

Also what should be included is all the new Xbox items – SmartGlass, the updated Games app, and Xbox Video and Xbox Music. Again, these are software changes. Then we have Nokia Maps and Drive. Those are already on Windows Phone 7.5 – just only on Nokia phones. Windows Phone 8 basically opens it up to everyone. If Nokia was smart – release the damn thing on Windows Phone Store.

Windows Phone was behind – actually, way behind compared to Android and iOS.

But overall, for Windows Phone – a clean slate to start again is probably the best way if it wants to have a future. Windows Phone was behind – actually, way behind compared to Android and iOS. Windows Phone 7 was rushed out when I look back. When I got my hands on HTC’s Windows Phone devices, it had its good points – like the design. But sometimes, things were buried under weird options and sometimes I wonder why is this here, as opposed to right there. It was simply making sure that Windows Mobile wasn’t dead.

Mango made it better, it it still carried some of the hardware issues.

But with Windows Phone 8, it solves many issues with Windows Phone 7 – including the new multi-core support, NFC, new screen sizes and the all important Apps Question.

What am I referring to is the reluctance of app developers to make apps for the platform. You had to develop either with XNA or Silverlight. Now, there’s easier porting between iOS and Android apps, and a common code base between Windows and Windows Phone 8 – including C++ and DirectX. Yes, DirectX is now coming to Windows Phone 8. This is also due to its kernal conversion from Windows CE to Windows NT – so essentially, it is running the same core as Windows.

All of that now means that you can code an app for Android, iOS and/or Windows and easily port it over to Windows Phone 8. You don’t have to learn a new language to code an app for Windows Phone 8 – app companies can now build with little learning curve. It just needs to know the API.

And of course, you’ll still be able to run Windows Phone 7 apps on Windows Phone 8. You just can’t do the reverse.

The smart money would simply release a phone within a month from now with the Lumia 800 or 900 body

Overall, the most affected is not the fans. But it is Nokia. Their phones are now considered legacy despite being in the market for just a year. That’s got to hurt. Microsoft has assured 18 months of support before pulling the plug – and that’s giving enough time for Nokia to make new phones running Windows Phone 8.

The smart money would simply release a phone within a month from now with the Lumia 800 or 900 body, add NFC, upgrade the processor and a better camera. For Nokia, it needs to get it out now before Samsung and HTC – who have also confirmed develop phones for it. Then it can focus on new phones.

Developers will be happy. Fans won’t (but they can simply be won over if Windows Phone 8 phones are high quality phones). Regardless, Windows Phone 8 brings a jumpstart to something better for the overall platform. Cutting the existing base is a move that should not taken unless you have a plan – and Microsoft has a plan. It just needs to be a bit better than simply offering a new Start screen.

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