In the wake of the unveiling of Windows Phone 7, many are wondering if the smartphone they are using now will be upgradeable to this new operating system. According to a Microsoft executive, the answer is simple: no.
Windows Mobile 6 and earlier gave device makers a wide range of options, but the next version is a major departure from previous practices, and Microsoft has set some rigid hardware requirements. Requirements that exclude every current model.
Natasha Kwan, who is in charge of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific region, made this clear in a recent interview: “Because we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series the current phones we have right now will not be upgradeable.”
And the Requirements Are…
All models running this new operating system are going to have to include a capacitive multi-touch display, which will eliminate virtually all phones available now, like the HTC Touch Pro2.
Other requirments include Wi-Fi, a 5 megapixel camera, a GPS receiver, and an FM radio. Microsoft is also specifying the number and arrangements of buttons below the screen, one of which has to be dedicated to the Bing search engine.
This first group of Windows Phone 7 models will all have to have a WVGA (800 by 480 pixel) display, but later devices will reportedly be allowed to have smaller screens.
Not Even the HTC HD2?
The HTC HD2 is possibly the most cutting-edge smartphone available today with Windows Mobile 6.5, and it meets virtually all the hardware requirements Microsoft has laid down. Users’ hopes for an OS upgrade were raised a few months ago, when HTC employee promised one for this model. but this was quickly rescinded.
When asked about this, Microsoft’s Kwan pointed out that one of the hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7 is three buttons under the screen: Home, Back and Search. The HD2 has five — Call, Home, Start, Back, and End. This is enough to make it ineligible for the upgrade.
The developers of this new OS are determined that all devices running it have the same “user experience”, and the buttons are apparently considered an important part of that.
More about Windows Phone 7
Despite its name, Microsoft’s next smartphone operating system has little in common with its predecessors. It will have a completely different user interface and apparently won’t run applications written for the earlier versions.
Its focus has moved to consumers, and its UI emphasizes social networking, pictures, games, etc. It has also been redesigned to be controlled with a fingertip.
Just about the only significant similarity between old and new is that both include Microsoft Office Mobile and support for synchronizing with Microsoft Exchange.