Windows Phone 7.8


Windows Phone 7.8 mockup on the HTC TITAN II

Windows Phone 7.8 is an upcoming (and perhaps final) OS upgrade to the Windows Phone 7.x platform.  Windows Phone 7.x is based off of the CE kernel while Windows Phone 8 allowed Microsoft to transition over to the much more robust NT kernel. Because of this, current Windows Phone 7.x users (Nokia Lumia 710, 800 900, HTC Titan II, Radar, etc.) cannot upgrade to Windows Phone 8.

Announced back in June 2012 at the Windows Phone Summit, the 7.8 upgrade was said to come after the release of Windows Phone 8 later that fall. Indeed, Microsoft has now confirmed that it is due to hit carriers and devices sometime in “early 2013”.

Features have not been officially confirmed in the update except for the inclusion of the new Start screen experience i.e. three Tile sizes: small, normal and the doublewide. In addition, re-branding of Zune to Xbox Music and the new Xbox Games icons have been changed, plus the Bing lockscreen wallpaper feature. Other smaller changes are expected in the final release build, pegged at 7.10.8858.

Currently it is unknown which phones will get the update nor which carriers will support it, but Nokia and HTC are expected to fully embrace the rollout.

 

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Soon after Microsoft today announced the Windows Phone 7.8 SDK, we wrote how this was more evidence that the highly anticipated update is right around the corner. Bets are being traded on which carriers are first (and which are last), but we have one surprise for you: AT&T.

Peeking on Nokia’s own servers, we can now see the official Windows Phone 7.8 update and corresponding firmware now waiting to be released into the wild.  Listed for all for color variants of the Lumia 900, the 7.8 update must have reached approval status very recently.

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On Sunday we anticipated that Microsoft would start talking more about Windows Phone 7.8 as all signs point to January 31st as the beginning of a global rollout for current Windows Phone users.

Today, Microsoft has announced the Windows Phone 7.8 SDK update, which will allow developers to better target the 7.8 changes—specifically new Tile options—and to make sure that the apps behave as intended.

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Although Microsoft itself has been officially mum on when the Windows Phone 7.8 update will go out to the masses, the end of January is coming into focus as the target date.

On the face of it, Windows Phone 7.8 is a minor update bringing only the ability to use three different size tiles on the Start screen, reflecting the Windows Phone 8 paradigm in addition to some smaller, device specific enhancements. But based user experience, 7.8 really does make a difference in perception, making older devices feel more modern.

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We began to get rather hopeful with news of an imminent release for the Windows Phone 7.8 update, thanks to a tweet published by UK mobile operator O2. The company has quickly become the premier Windows Phone carrier in the UK, supporting the platform with stock of not only Lumia handsets, but Samsung and HTC as well.

Now Telstra has provided some hints that consumers with Windows Phone 7 hardware won't have to wait too long for the much anticipated update.

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We know a lot of people are anxious for Windows Phone 7.8, the OS update for current Windows Phone 7.xx users who want the new “look” of 3 Live Tile sizes, in addition to some other minor enhancements.

O2, via Twitter support, has responded to one customer by stating  the update will come by the end of January and will be delivered by Zune desktop.

We should caution that O2 Twitter is not exactly an official announcement and we have seen some false information come from carrier support before, but the detail and confidence by which O2 responded here gives us some hope.

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One thing you can count on Nokia to do is continually improve the user experience of their devices. While they’re busy pushing forward with their Windows Phone 8 agenda on the 820 and 920 series, they still provide stellar support for devices running Windows Phone 7.X. Their Bluetooth Share for those older handsets has just received an update. What’s new?

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Augmented reality is both fun and a useful way for software to interact with what's presently visible in the real world. It's advanced technology that really brings hardware to life. A perfect example of use is Nokia's own City Lens app that enables users to look up POI (points of interest) while walking down any given street. All locations are displayed on-screen as the camera is panned across. But where has augmented span from?

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Nokia is sure paying attention to their entry level Windows Phones as both the Lumia 510, which just came out, and the slightly older Lumia 610 are both getting some Windows Phone 7.8 treatment and updates.

Microsoft noted that devices would start shipping with 7.8 in late December while those with current devices will have to wait a smidge later to get the update delivered via Zune desktop.

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