Since Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7.8, the software giant that has recently entered the hardware business on a large scale, has been very quiet about the Windows Phone 7.8 operating system update for legacy handsets. Pocket-Lint, which sourced information from a Chinese language website, reports that the platform will get a few new features once it goes live at some time next year.

According to the report, a slide leaked online shows some features of Windows Phone 7.8. Apart from the new Start screen featured in Windows Phone 8, which has already been announced, there are improvements to the browser as well. The upcoming operating system will not feature the Internet Explorer 10; it is believed that Microsoft will add some enhancements to IE9 instead.

Leaked slide reveals some of the upcoming features

Leaked slide reveals some of the upcoming features

The report states that other enhancements to the upcoming OS for legacy handsets such as the Lumia 800 are more colour themes; support for editing MP3 files on the handset itself, which can be used to make ringtones; and access to the Windows Phone 8 Lock screen that enables users to change their wallpapers with new images through apps.

The slide reveals that Nokia too is adding some of its own improvements such as the Contacts Transfer app as well as features to share content via Bluetooth.

No timeline has been declared yet for the availability of this operating system for existing devices that are eligible to receive the upgrade. However, it is speculated that Microsoft will issue this update only after the hype of Windows Phone 8 settles down. Judging by this information, we can expect the compatible handsets to be updated in early 2013.

None of the existing Windows Phone 7 devices, including the Nokia 900, are eligible for a Windows Phone 8 update. In order to avoid a riot outside its stores, Microsoft promptly announced Windows Phone 7.8, a sort of ‘value pack’, if you will, for existing devices. All handsets running WP 7.5 or Mango will be upgradeable to WP 7.8, and one of the new features that the update brings with it is the new customisable homescreen from WP 8. Users of the Lumia 800 and similar devices will be able to resize the homescreen widgets as well as choose between different colour schemes for better personalisation. This applies to all Nokia Lumia handsets.

In an interview with The Verge, Greg Sullivan explains this decision, “The nature of the investment [in Windows Phone 8] is primarily in areas that are not exploitable by existing hardware. To do the work to bring all of those elements to a platform that can't exploit them wasn't necessarily the most efficient use of resource.”
While we understand that WP 8 is a completely different OS altogether, it’s surprising that Microsoft couldn’t optimise it for single-core handsets. Perhaps, the reason was the lower amount of RAM, and not the CPU capacity. Who knows, perhaps someone will manage to strip it down and port it over to older handsets. Not everyone cares about dual-core on their phones, NFC and all that jazz, so for them, the WP 7.8 update is more than welcome. “When you pull that Lumia out of your pocket after you’ve received that 7.8 update, it will look and feel the same as a Windows Phone 8 device,” said Sullivan. This should keep many WP 7 users happy for the time being, until they decide if they need to take the WP 8 plunge.

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