Windows Phone 8 has made its fair share of headlines lately but there hasn’t been has much official chatter about Windows Phone 7 .8, the update intended to bridge the feature gap between older and newer Windows Phones. Well, consider that quiet streak broken — Microsoft confirmed today that the 7.8 update would begin rolling out in the first quarter of 2013, with devices running the revamped build poised to launch soon.
Sadly, the news flies in the face of several rumors that the update was to be launched this week. Now, pushing out new devices with Windows Phone 7.8 is a savvy move on Microsoft’s part as they continue to push for more global marketshare (7.8-laden devices are reportedly slated to hit China soon), but that’s probably not much consolation to early adopters.
Sure, it’s nice of them to put a finer point on the timeline, but that’s still a considerable wait for the Windows Phone faithful who took a chance on the platform in its early days. The wait will be even longer still for some users — software updates of this scale require testing and approval from device manufacturers and carriers too, so expect some devices to get the 7.8 nod well ahead of others. In case you haven’t been following the Windows Phone platform too closely (you really should, by the way), 7.8 isn’t going to add too much to the mix — think the Windows Phone 8 homescreen design, new accent colors, and some miscellaneous security fixes.
As much of a bummer as the prospect of a potentially lengthy wait could be, Microsoft’s own WP update track record highlights the need for taking the time to do things right. Case in point: a “pre-update” pushed to devices in preparation for the 7.5 Mango update in February 2011 wrought havoc with some users’ Windows phones, even forcing some of them to seek their wireless carrier’s assistance. Needless to say, Microsoft took things nice and slow when it came time for the big Mango push later that year.