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The current versions of Windows Phone have finally gotten their death sentences.
Microsoft will end support for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 on July 9 and September 9 2014, respectively — exactly 18 months after they were introduced. On those dates, Microsoft will stop shipping updates — including security updates — to devices running those versions of the mobile OS.
While that sounds like a bad deal for Windows Phone owners, it’s really not: Microsoft is ending support for the versions, but users can simply upgrade to the next version of Windows Phone when it is released later this year (which resets the 18-month update cycle).
But that doesn’t mean it’s all good. Some owners will not get the chance to upgrade, either because phone manufacturers fail to take the plunge or because carriers block the updates. So while Microsoft will obviously allow current Windows Phone 8 owners to update their devices, the company can’t guarantee that other factors won’t prevent the updates from reaching their phones.
“Distribution of the updates may be controlled by the mobile operator or the phone manufacturer from which you purchased your phone. Update availability will also vary by country, region, and hardware capabilities,” Microsoft says.
That stinks, but as Android has so painfully shown, it’s just what happens when you take the multi-manufacturer approach to smartphones. This is one thing Apple is probably pretty glad it doesn’t have to deal with.