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Microsoft has come under fire recently for the lack of detail about the operating system. It will offer some of WP8's aesthetic improvements to older hardware. Over the weekend, Paul Thurrott slammed Microsoft for abusing its early adopters. Essentially, Microsoft has stranded its earliest Windows Phone customers on older devices that cannot be upgraded.
Windows Phone 8 may look and feel like its WP7, 7.1, and 7.5 precursors, but it is entirely different under the hood. It is based on the same kernel used by Windows 8 and Windows RT. It has different hardware requirements, which means every single device that shipped with an earlier version of Windows Phone cannot be updated to WP8. This includes former marquee devices, such as Nokia's Lumia 900, 800, and 710, as well as the HTC Titan and Titan II.
Hence Windows Phone 7.8.
[ Windows Phone 8 users report crashes and reboots on their devices. Read more at Windows Phone 8 Hit With Random Reboot Bug. ]
Microsoft knew it needed to do something to fill the gap between Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8, and WP7.8 is that gap filler. But we don't know anything about it. The only detail shared by Microsoft concerns the new WP7.8 home screen, which includes the same adjustable tile sizes as Windows Phone 8.
TechCrunch reached out to Microsoft and managed to get a comment. "We have made no further announcement on [WP7.8] but hope to share more details in the near future," said a Microsoft spokesperson. That's a fantastically vague statement that doesn't really say anything of value.
A number of websites have pointed to a story on Toni's Tech Blog that says WP7.8 is being launched "as soon as Wednesday." There's one problem: The post was written way back on March 26, a detail that appears to have escaped the sites citing it as a source this week.
At this point, the bottom line is that we know nothing more than we did five months ago, and Microsoft is keeping it that way for the time being.
Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)