Microsoft said handsets running current versions of its Windows Mobile operating system will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 7 when the new OS is formally introduced later this year, citing incompatibility between the different incarnations of its mobile platform. In an interview with APC, Natasha Kwan--general manager for Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific region--explains that the unique hardware configuration of all Windows Phone 7 devices make upgrades virtually impossible: All handsets based on the new OS will ship with mandatory Home, Back and Search buttons, while phones like the current HTC HD2 feature five buttons (Call, Home, Start, Back and End Call/Power). "Because we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series, the current phones we have right now will not be upgradable," Kwan said.
Kwan also echoed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's earlier assertion that the software giant will continue supporting Windows Mobile 6.5 for years to come, explaining that the OS will be rebranded as Windows Phone Classic and retained for budget-minded smartphone users as well as business customers running 6.x-based apps. "We think there are people who will want 6.5, and the 6.x platform has a lot of enterprise and line of business apps," Kwan said, adding that Microsoft will update Windows Mobile 6.5 to 6.5.3 before the Windows Phone Classic rebranding occurs. "A lot of 6.5 applications have been built very much from the old paradigm of the stylus," she said. "Those legacy apps will be a lot more compatible on 6.5.3 because we have magnifier technology which lets you use your finger for navigating, even though it has a much bigger surface area."
For more on the transition to Windows Phone 7:
- read this APC article
Microsoft unveils first Windows Phone 7 prototype
Windows Phone 7 to offer both Silverlight and XNA development