The subject of updates coming to existing Windows Phone 7 handsets has been ominously lingering over discussions of Windows Phone 8 for months now. While there seems to be a trend of commentary dismissing the chance for currently-available WP7 gear to see updates, we’ve yet to get official word from Microsoft. It might still be too early to learn, but we’re hoping the company might address the issue at the WP8 preview event it’s throwing later this month. In the meantime, a new rumor claims that instead of WP8, WP7 phones will see a “feature update” to 7.6 or 7.7, bringing some limited WP8 functionality to these models.
If this seems a bit like Samsung and its “Value Pack” release for phones that it didn’t feel were up to the task of running Ice Cream Sandwich, that’s because it should. This update would include an unspecified number of WP8 features while keeping phones on their current WP7 kernels.
That doesn’t sound like the answer a lot of WP7 users might have been hoping for, but will it actually come to pass? The rumor about this update also claims that Microsoft isn’t releasing a full-on WP8 for these phones due to it being “not technically possible because Windows Phone 8 uses different chip sets”.
Something about that statement just doesn’t ring quite true to us. Microsoft has all the source code, after all, so it should be able to compile it as it likes. Sure, WP8 might not run like a dream on older hardware, and it might take some effort to get all aspects of the OS behaving nicely together on these devices, but “not technically possible” sounds like a bit of an overstatement. Even an OS with new support for multi-core processors should still be able to fall-back and run on single-core systems. We could easily be off here, and there may be factors we’re not considering, but our misgivings are enough to make us wonder just how accurate these claims of a Windows Phone 7.6 or 7.7 like this might actually be.