Good news for Nokia Windows Phone users, the update to Windows Phone 7.8 is rolling out to phones running Windows Phone 7.5 today, adding features like resizable tiles and new lock screen options.
According to Nokia’s official Nokia Conversations blog, the update will continue through February, depending on network approval. This corresponds to a tweet from O2 to @RadioInTheUK, O2’s official Twitter feed stating that Windows Phone 7.8 “will be released by the end of January and will be available via Zune. ”
Windows Phone 8 - the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system - isn’t compatible with devices running Windows Phone 7.5, such as the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 900. To appease customers (many of whom were early adopters) Microsoft announced older handsets would instead be getting an update to Windows Phone 7.8.
Highlights of Windows Phone 7.8 include resizeable live tiles, bluetooth and internet sharing and support for apps like Play To, Nokia City Lens and Xbox SmartGlass.
There’s no sign of an update on our Nokia Lumia 800 yet, but we'll keep you updated.
Key features of Windows Phone
Windows Phone launched late 2010. It’s evolved since its original release but still holds the same key features and functions at heart. There are certain aspects that help it stand out as a mobile operating system in the market and give it a distinctly Windows Phone ‘feel:’
- Microsoft’s mobile operating system
- Metro UI with Live Tiles
- Internet Explorer
- Hotmail integration
- Xbox integration
- Zune store
- Microsoft Office
- People Hub
- Pinning apps, contacts and groups to homescreen
- Bing services
- Local Scout
How does Windows Phone differ to Android and iOS?
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system built by Microsoft, just as Android is a product of Google and iOS is a product of Apple. Windows Phone entered into the market later than its leading smartphone OS rivals but graces itself on a host of mobile manufacturers including HTC and Samung, some of which make Android devices too. In 2011 Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance, with Nokia adopting Windows Phone as its primary phone platform.
The key differentiating features are the fact that Windows Phone handsets hav Xbox integration, uses Internet Explorer as the default mobile browser and includes a full mobile version of Microsoft Office out of the box, something no other handset can boast. Also, whereas Google has access to Google Play and iOS offers the App Store, WP users have access to the Windows Phone Marketplace which now has over 100,000 apps.
What is Windows Phone 7.5?
Although all current Windows Phones are capable of running version 7.5 of Microsoft’s mobile OS. They all originally launched running Windows Phone 7. The 7.5 update brought a number of improvements helping to make the OS more competitive:
- Customisable ringtones
- Lower hardware requirements
- Visual voicemail
- Battery saver mode
- Improved voice commands
- Facebook Chat integration
- WiFi hotspot functionality
What is Windows Phone 7.8?
It was a bittersweet affair in June when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8. The prospect of new handsets was marred by the news that all the current Windows Phone handsets aren't upgradable. To reconcile current WP users, the company then said that older handsets will be given an update to Windows Phone 7.8.
Although the underlying functionality is expected to be the same, the key differentiation over Windows Phone 7.5 is that the 7.8 update brings the same user interface as Windows Phone 8. The tile size of Windows Phone apps currently available on 7 and 7.5 devices will be called medium tiles, with the option to scale up or down the tile size to large or small respectively. What’s more, users will be able to arrange a mix of tile size in various configurations on their homescreen.
There's now also word that a variant of Windows Phone 8's Live Apps feature will be available in the 7.8 update in a reduced capacity, users will be able to trim down their own MP3 ringtones, theme colours will be bolstered to a full range of 20 and apps like Xbox Music and Xbox SmartGlass are also said to be supported.
What is Windows Phone 8?
The newest version of Windows Phone arrived at the end of October and devices from the likes of Nokia, HTC and Samsung are now in the market running Windows Phone 8. Some of the additional features offered by the OS are:
Multi-core support - Thus far all Windows Phone handsets have had a single-core processor, whilst iOS and Android devices have been utilising dual-core and (in some cases) quad-core processors.
New screen resolutions - The last generation of devices were locked to using one screen resolution. Windows Phone 8 allows flexibility in this area so manufacturers are able to produce a more diverse range of handsets.
Removable memory - Many Android devices offer removable SD cards with which they can install/store both apps and files like music, movies and pictures. Windows Phone 8 devices can now do the same, provided a removable microSD card is accessible.
“Shared Core” - To coincide with the release of Microsoft's new desktop/tablet operating system - Windows 8, the company have enabled developers to make the most of a new “shared core” enabling for easier transfer of applications from one platform to the other and visa versa.
Nokia Maps integration - Nokia Maps was an exclusive Windows Phone application, unique to Nokia’s Lumia handsets, in Windows Phone 8 it's technology is available to all Windows Phone users.
OTA updates - Over-the-air updates were a welcome inclusion on Android and iOS and now they’ve making their way to Windows Phone handsets with WP8, meaning users don’t have to plug their phone into a computer for each major firmware upgrade.
When will Windows Phone 8 become available?
Microsoft held simultaneous launch parties in the US and the UK to celebrate the launch of Windows Phone 8 at the very end of October. See our coverage of the London event here.
What is a Nokia Lumia?
All of Nokia’s Windows Phone smartphones carry the Lumia name. Currently the lineup stands with the Nokia Lumia 610, Lumia 710, Lumia 800, Lumia 900, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 (differs outside the UK). For the meantime, if it has Lumia in the name, it’ll be running Windows Phone.
Is Nokia the only company to make Windows Phone smartphones?
It may have become apparent that although Nokia are a significant player in the Windows Phone space, they are not the only one. Currently notable manufacturers of Windows Phone 7.5 devices are Samsung, HTC, LG and ZTE, however the Windows Phone 8 manufacturer portfolio looks a little different with the likes of Huawei, HTC and Samsung stepping up alongside Nokia.