The next big step for Microsoft’s mobile platform is within sight, as we start preparing for the arrival of Windows Phone 8.1. We’ve been hearing about what we might expect from the update for months now, and with screenshots from phones such as the Lumia 630 revealing evidence of 8.1 features like those virtual on-screen buttons, the software’s pending release feels more real than ever. But when it finally does get here – presumably within the next few months – will you be able to upgrade? Microsoft wants to assure its users that they’re not looking forward to any repeat of a 7.8/8.0 split, and current WP8 phones should all be able to follow the platform forward to 8.1.
Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan offered that assurance in a recent CES interview. Although to be fair, there’s still the chance that a carrier might not feel compelled to make the update available to its subscribers, but that’s not necessarily Microsoft’s fault.
We knew that Microsoft intended WP8 to be a lot more forwardly flexible than WP7, so these statements don’t really come as any surprise, but we suppose it’s still comforting to learn that Microsoft hasn’t shifted gears any, and is intent on keeping Windows Phone platform updates coming to existing WP8 users for as long as is feasible.
Sullivan also weighs-in a bit on rumors about the future of Windows RT and its possible intersection with Windows Phone. He doesn’t offer any answers, but notes that there’s still an ongoing debate within Microsoft of exactly how it wants to proceed here.