Microsoft has confirmed that the current range of Windows Phone 7.5 users will not be getting Windows Phone 8 on their smartphone. However, they will get some of the new features of the new operating system via a Windows Phone 7.8 update.
In a move by Microsoft to try to appease current WP7 users, while still moving forward with new hardware support and features, owners of the Nokia Lumia range, Samsung phones, HTC devices and other makes will get some of the new features, but not all.
Microsoft has confirmed that all Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 apps will run on Windows Phone 7.8 and that users will be getting the biggest new visual feature of Windows Phone 8: the newly improved Start screen.
The new Start screen is at the centre of changes to the Windows Phone 7.8 update and will still see the Metro array of live tiles, but will add support for two new tile sizes. There will also be more customisation, with new theme colours and a larger Start screen layout.
The new small tiles take up a quarter of the space of a Windows Phone 7 tile, but can still display information - making them about the same size as the iPhone app icons but interactive, as is already the case with the Start tiles.
A second new tile is a large tile that takes up the full width of the screen. This size of tile is currently reserved for OEMs and operators (and for Microsoft’s own apps), but now any application developer will be able to add a large tile to their code.
Small tiles are best designed as part of an application, but will also be generated automatically for any app by Windows Phone 7.8.
Windows Phone developers might not be so giving, though. They will have the choice of making new applications that run only on Windows Phone 8, or applications that run on all versions but don't use the new Windows Phone 8 features - basically two versions of the app, one for older phones and one for new models.
Neither will be specifically designed for Windows Phone 7.8.