A new feature sheet of the upcoming Windows Phone update and upgrade has leaked out. This feature sheet compares Windows Phone 7.8 to the newer Windows Phone 8 OS. We already know that current WP7 handsets will not be receiving WP8, but WP 7.8 as a compensation.
WP 7.8 brings many of the features of WP8 which the current hardware can support, including and not only the WP8 Home Screen (which in itself is a huge upgrade for current WP users).
It is sad to note that WP 7.8 will not have the newer and better IE10 browser. But worry not, for IE9 in WP7 is an excellent browser, providing desktop grade browsing with unmatched fluidity. However, current WP users will miss out on the newer iteration. Perhaps IE10 requires more hardware acceleration and is hence incompatible with current WP7 hardware.
The Skype application is already available for WP7 users. Microsoft will only be completely integrating it into WP8, allowing you to Skype call a friend directly from your contacts. Perhaps a feature not that many people will miss.
With the release of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Google Now, it has become plenty clear that Voice commands and Virtual Assistants have become a very important part of the modern mobile operating systems. And why shouldn’t they? After all who wouldn’t want help by just asking for it to your phone. WP7 users will however not get newer Voice Command features than already present.
Microsoft will be introducing even tighter cloud integration with WP8, where all of user’s data will be stored in cloud. This is pretty helpful as moving from one device to another will be as simple as logging into your account, and you’re done! WP7 users will not receive a boost in this department, beyond syncing of Office 365 already.
Perhaps the biggest feature of them all is the Startup screen. Visually appealing, and a place where a user will always look at every time he or she unlocks the phone. A start screen thus has to be good enough to keep the user feel like it’s not boring or tiring to look at simply because a user has to look at it again and again. WP7 users will be receiving the same start screen as WP8 users, and that indeed is a huge bonus. The new tile sizes and layout is very pretty, and elegant as well. Have a look at it for yourselves.
Not covered in the feature sheet, but of crucial importance. It is worth mentioning that all WP7 apps will work on WP8. However WP8 apps will simply not work on WP7, and the WP 7.8 update doesn’t change that. WP7 already has a 100,000+ apps repository, however people always like a lively app store with more apps, newer and innovative ones. The announcement of WP8 pretty much halted the development of apps for WP7 platform altogether.
WP8 will open up APIs to developers just like in the case of Xbox360 (which is the reason why such hardware is able to churn out so much more than it’s PC counter parts). WP7 was never that good on the gaming front. Microsoft, even though it integrated Xbox Live, never gave it a real push. But that push comes for WP8, and with full momentum.
Overall, the WP 7.8 update may not be as appealing as the new OS WP8 itself. However, for old WP7 users it’s a substantial upgrade that Microsoft is providing them. But this will still not make new Lumia 900 buyers happy, who bought a high-end flagship handset at top costs only to realize they are stuck with it now.