Around the beginning of this year, when Windows Phone 8 was mentioned in the rumor mill and people started thinking about what Microsoft has in store for the rather small, but intriguing circle of WP users, there were no mentions of an additional version, for weaker devices. Now, standing on the bridge of two years, we’ve found ourselves questioning the actual differences between the “revolutionary” Windows Phone 8 and its simplified sibling, WP 7.8.
Taking in to consideration, the fact that Nokia is already pushing the Windows Phone 7.8 update towards legacy devices, all rumors regarding the features and content of this smaller, but significant package have been blown away.
Differences between Windows Phone 8 and 7.8
For the uninitiated, Microsoft created Windows Phone 8 as a major update for devices powered by their platform. The jump was so big, that it could only be delivered on smartphones with advanced technical specifications, which respect all the lines of the official technical requirement sheet.
Even though some devices sporting Windows Phone could comply with all these rules, Microsoft chose to create the next version as a stand-alone client and not as an update, due to high developing costs. Thus, the idea of Windows Phone 7.8 was born.
While Windows Phone 8 was delivered with enhanced features such as full NFC support, background multitasking, network data analyzers and compatibility for multi-core devices, WP 7.8 was only a visual implementation of the new concept. In a few words, the less-advanced version can only replicate the interface advantages brought by Microsoft, without modifying functionality in any major way.
Actually, Windows Phone 7.8 comes only with resizable live, resizable tiles, a new children security setting for the lockscreen, a collection of theme colors and the ability to automatically swap the wallpaper of the lockscreen using Bing’s favorite of the day.
Be smart: integrate missing options
Although the situation may seem pretty rough at first, users can make up for some Windows Phone 7.8 downsides through the use of third party applications. For instance, the more advanced version of Microsoft’s mobile OS comes with a Skype client integrated directly into the platform, while WP 7.8 users can download an application for that.
This applies to several other concepts, such as the Data Smart feature, RCS-e and cloud synchronization (you can use Office OneNote or the 356 package). Also, some features such as the Visual Voicemail will be made available only for selected countries.
Vendors can complete the list
Thanks to Microsoft official partners, such as Nokia, the Windows Phone 7.8 will be easily upgraded by the vendor itself. For instance, the Finnish company has already updated its website with all the goodies that users will receive, apart from Microsoft’s own package:
- Cinemagraph – an add-on that creates several effects, such as blend and movie-like animation, to render pictures more alive
- Camera lenses – can be used to remove unwanted objects from photos (such as passing strangers, closed eye-lids
- Sharing non-DRM files through Bluetooth
- Ringtone Maker
- Updates for existing applications, such as Contact Share and Transfer
Even more potential exists, as I remember that a while ago vendors asked Microsoft for the right to tweak Windows Phone in order to distinguish one company, from another. Presently, Nokia has the rights to tweak the camera application in any desire way.
Another aspect to take in to account is the life-period of these two mobile versions, which will differ from sun to earth. While rumors claim that Microsoft will not stop updating the Windows Phone 7.x sphere with this small implementation, it has vouched to maintain the longevity of its newest version at least fro 18 months. This means that if you purchase a Windows phone from the newest generation, it will certainly be supported for the next two years or so.