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Windows Phone 7's Upgrade to WP8 Apollo Now Unclear

Consumers who currently own Windows Phone 7 devices may not see an upgrade past 7.x, as there's indication that Microsoft won't distribute a Windows Phone 8 upgrade to past, present and future 7.x devices. The revelation arrived during Mobile World Congress this week thanks to Terry Myerson, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone, while speaking to the financial analyst community.

According to ZDNet, a participant in the meeting asked Myerson whether there will be forward or backward capability between Windows Phone 7.x and Windows Phone 8 (codenamed Apollo). But rather than confirm or deny that existing Windows Phones are compatible with the Apollo release later this year, Myerson danced around the question and talked about app compatibility.

"We haven’t announced Windows Phone 8, but in terms of I can show you our goal to all Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8," Myerson said. "Application compatibility is always something, where there’s always stuff on the fringe…. The spirit is our goal that all Windows Phone applications today run on our next release."

Additional sources claim that Apollo won't be pushed to existing Windows Phone users. The decision may be based on carriers and/or Microsoft itself. If that is indeed the case, consumers who purchase a Windows Phone 7.x device just before Apollo’s release won't receive any new features save for what apps bring to the table. They'll also be locked out of the unified experienced that Windows 8 promises for multiple devices.

"Statistically speaking, no Android phone gets upgraded," Myerson said during the meeting. "None. Ever. They have big bugs that don't even get patched. That's what we're seeing statistically out there. In the case of Apple, they ship OS updates to hardware that makes it unusable. It's a great hardware sales tool, as far as I can tell. Install an OS that makes your hardware unusably slow so you feel compelled to go back to the store and buy a new piece of hardware."

He added that consumer expectations of updates can be a "landmine," and that Microsoft plans to be clear about what consumers can expect in that particular area. He then took another shot at Apple, saying the company has created a "great hardware upgrade incentive system." Yet to some degree, Microsoft is seemingly doing the same thing, forcing Windows Phone 7.x owners to purchase a new Windows Phone 8 device if they want to enjoy the full multi-screen One-OS-To-Rule-Them-All experience.

"The most familiar UI for people worldwide will be Metro very soon," he said. "And that's great for the phone business."