Here’s an explanation for the confusion regarding older device support for the upcoming Apollo update to Windows Phone — it might not be Windows Phone at all.
Microsoft Should Replace Windows Phone With Windows 8 RT
Windows 8 RT (Run Time) is the ARM version of Windows 8 and is essentially the pure distilled Metro UI without any legacy support and legacy desktop (although there are rumors about that bit too). Windows 8 RT, just like Windows CE, will be distributed directly to hardware manufacturers and will not be retailed. Just like iOS or Android is not retailed. Now there’s speculation whether Microsoft would be changing Windows Phone and move all their phones to Windows RT instead.
Phones will run on ARM chips. Windows 8 has an ARM version that is perfect for mobile devices. We have already spied missed call alerts and text message tiles on the original Windows 8 unveil. So making putting two and two together, we get a possibility where Windows 8 RT will be used to run all future Windows smartphones.
Technologically that is perfect for Microsoft’s plan of one single unified platform. It will be Windows 8 all the way. Your Desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone and everything in between will be running on one platform. Everything can be easily shared and syncing is effortless and fully automated. Life is good.
Business-wise, it will cause Microsoft to introduce yet another brand change in to their smartphone platform. They changed from Windows Mobile 6.5 to Windows Phone 7 in 2010. And now they would have to change from Windows Phone 7.5 to Windows 8 RT. Branding problems galore. However, they can just brand a smartphone build of Windows 8 RT as Windows Phone 8 and get around the branding problem.
The only thing that will have to be sacrificed with this is support for older hardware that’s already being pushed big time in to the market. Consumers have come to expect computer like software updates for the smarpthones and current Windows Phone users expect to be able to use Windows Phone 8 too. But Windows RT might have difficulties doing an in place upgrade because it will essentially be a different OS altogether. Perhaps SkyDrive’s backups can be put to use to manually upgrade the handsets at dedicated stores. So, it is possible that Microsoft will figure out a way but till then, the waiting game goes on indefinitely.