It’s long been known that Microsoft would have much tighter hardware requirements for Windows Mobile 7 than any previous version of its mobile operating system. Therefore, the general expectation for upgrades to the new version have not been hopeful: if you want Windows Phone 7 Series device, the fact that you have a Windows Mobile phone right now does not mean you can avoid buying a new phone.
Natasha Kwan, General Manager for Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific region, recently went on record that Microsoft would be very strict about what phones will be upgradable: she told APC that the HTC HD2 touchscreen smartphone “doesn’t qualify because it doesn’t have the three buttons” (it has five). HD2 owners will be unable to upgrade the device to Windows Mobile 7 when the OS is released later this year despite the fact the device meets many of the criteria laid down in Microsoft’s Chassis 1 spec, including a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a high-resolution capacitive touch display, a five megapixel camera, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
This statement has been widely extrapolated to mean that all Windows Mobile 6.x phones will not be allowed to move on up. That’s simply not the case. “For Windows Phone 7 Series we are enforcing a strict set of hardware requirements to ensure a consistently great experience for end-users and developers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. “While we cannot confirm that WM6.X phones that satisfy those requirements will be upgradeable, every Windows Phone 7 Series device will be upgradeable with improvements and features we deliver with subsequent Windows Phone 7 Series releases.”
Devices with Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition are expected to sell alongside devices from Windows Phone 7 Series.
The good news here is that Microsoft plans on maintaining a much more consistent experience across its many different devices with its rigid Windows Phone 7 Series hardware requirements. The bad news is that it comes at the loss of many of its current faithful Windows Mobile customers.