Microsoft has made it clear that, unlike its last attempt to crack the smartphone market, Windows Phone 8 handsets will be able to support full operating system updates.
Microsoft claims the Windows Phone 8 operating system's design allows manufacturers to create low-cost handsets, such as the Nokia Lumia 520, without sacrificing performance or user experience.
Potential owners may still be deterred by the apparent lack of apps in the ecosystem, but concerns about built-in obsolescence can be swept aside. In an interview with PC Mag, Greg Sullivan, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft, has confirmed that the Windows Phone 8 operating system and therefore its smartphone handsets will be receiving software updates. "We're going to have an upgrade path going forward," he said, accepting that those consumers who had invested in a Windows Phone 7 smartphone were stuck on an old platform with no chance of upgrading other than through buying a new handset.
But unlike its predecessor, updates to Windows Phone 8 should work with existing hardware specifications while being flexible to run on newer devices with different specifications. "Windows Phone 8 can evolve. We have an architecture that enables portability and is fundamentally hardware independent," he said. "As the market evolves and customer requirements demand it, we'll evaluate options."
This flexibility is also why Nokia has been able to launch two ‘low-cost' handsets at this year's event that still offer much of the same user experience and features of the current flagship handset the Nokia Limia 920.
"The hardware guidance for Windows Phone ensures that even the low-cost Windows Phones deliver great performance," Sullivan said. "You don't make sacrifices on a Windows Phone. If you have an Android phone that's affordable, you don't have the latest software, you can't run a large percentage of the apps and performance is not awesome."