Microsoft is focusing all their efforts on the new ecosystem that’s about to hit retail stores in a few months – Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The software giant may be starting from scratch with this “generation leap” in their mobile OS, leaving existing WP 7 users out in the cold, but it has now come to light that this was inevitable. According to Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone, Microsoft had already sealed the fate of WP 7 at the time of its launch because they were actually working on WP 8 and knew very well it wouldn’t be upgradable to WP 8. Apparently, according to Sullivan, “unifying the Windows Phone and Windows kernels was always the plan”. A simple question comes to mind upon this realization: why did Microsoft string us along for the ride that was headed over a cliff in the first place? Why not launch Windows Phone 8 directly along with Windows 8?

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How many months before WP8 is scrapped?

According to Natasha Lomas of Cnet UK, Microsoft used WP 7 to test the waters and see if there was a potential they could exploit. Real work on WP 8 began somewhere around the time Windows Phone 7.5 launched. “The simple truth is it couldn't afford to wait that long. It needed to get a rung on the ladder to ensure a chance of catching up with Android and iOS. In other words, it needed people to start buying into Windows Phone to make it worth developers' time and effort to make apps for the platform — apps needed to convince more people to buy Windows Phones in the future,” Lomas writes. Meanwhile, existing WP7 users will have to be content with the WP 7.8 update, which is more like slapping a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.  Most handsets running WP 7.5 or Mango will be upgradable to WP 7.8. One of the new features that the update brings with it is the new customizable homescreen from WP 8. Users of the Lumia 800 and other such devices will be able to resize homescreen widgets as well as choose between different colour schemes for better personalization, and this goes for all Nokia Lumia handsets.

What does this pose for the future of Windows Phone? Microsoft says that this “generational shift” happens only once in a while, but it seems like their definition of “once in a while” is not the same as ours. That’s what they said when they launched WP 7 and here we are, just twenty months down the line and there’s another shift. So, is WP 8 also headed for the trash can in a about twenty months? Is Microsoft already working on WP 9? No one really knows.

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