Why Upgradable Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 is Significant

While rumors and speculation has been floating for a few months now, the proverbial cat is out of the bag when it comes to Windows 10 upgrades for Windows Phone 8.1 users.  In a Tweet yesterday, the Microsoft Lumia account stated

“There will be Windows 10 upgrades for all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices 🙂 And we will release new Windows 10 models in the future”.

This is undoubtedly huge and every Windows Phone 8.1 owner should rejoice.  In fact, every Windows Phone 6, 7 or 8 owner should rejoice because it means that the start, restart and make everyone buy new devices days may be over.

I had the privledge of seeing WIndows Mobile 6 in an invite-only meeting from Microsoft.  I had mixed feeling about it if I’m honest as I had been an old school Pocket PC user and this new Metro UI wasn’t overwhelming me with joy.  I remember sitting next to Johan van Mierlo at the event and one of the things we both questioned was the fact that you couldn’t upgrade from Pocket PC to Windows Mobile.

Fine, I get it.  Totally different file structures.  Totally different hardware requirements (which I fully agreed with by-the-way.  Pocket PC at the time was the wild west when it came to device standards).

Fast forward to the release of Windows Phone 7 three years later.  If you were running a Windows Mobile 6.x device, you were out of luck.  Time to buy new hardware because older devices running 6.5 were not supported.  For me, it wasn’t that big a deal as my devices were pretty old but for many who had just bought 6.5 devices, this was gutting and did not go over well.

Fast forward again, this time to 2012.  Windows Phone 8 is released and guess what?  Your Windows Phone 7.x device was not upgradable.  This was mostly due to the fact that the hardware wouldn’t support the new NT-based kernel but once again it was telling consumers (many who had already left the platform at this point, including me) that they got to buy new phones.

That is why Microsoft’s announcement yesterday of an upgrade path from Windows Phone 8 to Windows 10 is so monumentally important in the lifecycle of this platform.  It means that the standardized hardware requirements are finally making Windows Phone the platform it was intended to be way back in the Windows Mobile 6.5 days.

Just like what Apple does on iPhone.

Likewise it de-risks Windows Phone for consumers and enterprises.  If you buy an iPhone, you can be reasonably sure that it will run the next release or two of iOS.  If you buy an Android device, you may not be as fortunate but chances are you will be able to upgrade it.  Windows Phone had no upgrade path until now.  Now you as a consumer can chose Windows Phone and know that you will be able to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest version of the platform.  There are still challenges with upgrades, don’t get me wrong.  The carrier delays on upgrading platforms has to come to an end as it is creating a negative perception problem for Microsoft, the Verizon debacle around upgrading the Lumia Icon being a great example.

This news today is important in the lifecycle of Windows Phone and I believe is another reflection of the new-and-improved Microsoft.  They know that mobile is key to their success and show it weekly with their embracing of all mobile platforms.  Today they embraced their own in a big way.