After hearing very late in the Mango development process that it might bring wireless internet sharing to Windows Phone devices, HTC confirmed the news, and explained a little about the process that would see it come to existing Windows Phone handsets. Now Microsoft has filled in the blanks a bit more, clarifying what has to happen to bring the feature to WP7 smartphones.
From HTC’s account, internet sharing was added too late to Mango for the company to prepare its updates with hotspot support enabled. Microsoft told a slightly different story in a blog post today, writing that “this feature will only be available on new Windows Phones that have radios capable of broadcasting a connection; if you update your existing phone to 7.5, it won’t give it the ability to use Internet Sharing.”
That would have been awful news if it meant that some hardware wouldn’t be compatible, but the company’s Joe Belfiore was able to clarify that there’s no reason hotspot mode couldn’t come to existing WP7 devices, but it would require a new wireless radio driver from each phone’s manufacturer it’s this component that HTC was likely referring to not being able to prepare on time. Microsoft also confirmed what we suspected, that mobile operators will get final say in whether or not phones on their networks will see the feature enabled. So far, we haven’t heard any ETAs from manufacturers about when we might expect these hotspot-capable drivers to arrive.