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Microsoft Will Pull the Support Plug on Windows Phones 7.8 and 8 Next Year

Screen shot 2013-03-20 at 7.51.18 PM

[Photo Credit: Windows Phone Daily]

I have much experience in writing on iOS and Apple news, and I entered the tech world some few years ago with iOS and Apple on my mind (and before my eyes) on a daily basis. I have come to own Android devices (in particular, the GS3) and appreciate the customization and technology found in Google’s OS, but have never given up on the fact that other operating systems (such as Mozilla FireFox and Windows) could help me appreciate tech even more. I have never owned a Windows device and found myself drooling over the Nokia 620 and 820 recently, two phones that are no more than three or four months old (max). Since website prices for these two phones are appealing, I thought I’d purchase a Nokia smartphone this year, running Windows 8.

Much to my dismay, there is no need to purchase Windows phone 8 devices — and you shouldn’t purchase them either.

The reason? Microsoft will deny web support to both Windows 7.8 and Windows 8 devices in 2014. For Windows 7.8, web support will end on September 9, 2014; for Windows 8, web support will end on July 8, 2014.   The Redmond company has decided to end web support for these devices because it plans to support devices running its latest operating system for 18 months only. Some tech analysts have said that this is not surprising, but I think it appalling. Even alarming for those interested in the Windows platform.

Let’s face the facts: with the exception of a consumer minority in the US, Microsoft and Windows have a small percentage of interested customers. There are Android and iOS customers who leave their former OS loyalties and drift towards Windows, but they come to Microsoft and Windows with similar expectations as the ones they had with Apple and Samsung, Google, Sony, or some other Android OEM. They want their devices to have web support for at least two years, the length of their carrier contract. Although T-Mobile is lighting the way with its new unlocked phones and prepaid agreements, most carriers are still heavily interested (and heavily locked into) the two-year contractual agreement. Many customers choose the two-year agreement because they cannot afford the full price of their handset right away.

With Microsoft’s decision to deny these devices web support in 2014, many individuals will find themselves with about six months of no web support for their current devices. Here is where Redmond could take some cues from Cupertino — even Apple provides three full years of web support for its devices. Currently, the iPhone 4 is running iOS6 but will not receive iOS7. The iPhone 4S will run iOS7 but will not receive iOS8 (since the iPhone 4S will leave the market as of Spring 2014). The iPhone 5, in stark contrast, will have another 2.5 years of web support before Apple “pulls the plug” on its latest flagship device. Even Samsung provides two full years or so of support. Notice that the Galaxy S2 will receive Android 4.2.2, the latest version of the Android OS prior to this May when Android 5.0 will be revealed.

One of the most disconcerting things about Microsoft’s announcement is that Windows 7.8 will receive support longer than Windows 8. The other disconcerting fact about Microsoft’s announcement is that interested customers (who are new to Windows) will no longer have an interest to purchase a Windows phone. I know that this new announcement has pushed me away from purchasing a Windows device, and I’m not alone. The next time you think about venturing out and trying a new OS, just remember these words — and do not give a Windows 7.8 or 8 phone a second glance. Just keep walking.