Microsoft Clarifies Windows 10 Upgrade Path For Lumia Smartphones

It looks as though Microsoft might have a winner on its hands with the smartphone version of Windows 10. Microsoft officially announced the operating system yesterday, and is bringing a wealth of improvements compared to its predecessor, Windows Phone 8.1.

Windows 10 brings a number of new features including a new dictation option, enhanced messaging capabilities, universal apps, a revamped Office suite, new Outlook mail client, and support for Microsoft’s wonderful new Spartan Internet browser. But while the new features are a definite plus for existing Windows Phone users, two of the biggest questions that remain revolve around the topics of availability and compatibility.

windows10 phone 2

To the first point, Windows Insiders will have access to early builds of Windows 10 in the coming weeks, and we expect the final version to launch sometime later this year. As for compatibility, Microsoft yesterday stated that Windows 10 would be made available as a free upgrade for existing devices that are already running Windows 8.1. Microsoft clarified that position somewhat this morning, stating that not all Windows Phone 8.x hardware would support the upgrade to Windows 10.

windows10 phone 1

“Like any upgrade to a new operating system, not every phone will upgrade or support all possible Windows 10 features, and certain features and experiences will require more advanced future hardware,” said Chris Weber, Corporate VP of Sales for Microsoft’s Mobile Devices group. “Our goal is for the majority of the Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 to join the Windows ecosystem along with an expected hundreds of millions of PCs, tablets and other devices running the next generation of Windows.”

It seems probable that 512MB of RAM will be the bare minimum for Windows 10, and any device with less RAM will likely be shown the door. I state this because 71 percent of current Windows Phone devices are running on 512MB of RAM or less, and the best-selling Windows Phone device of all time, the Lumia 520, is equipped with 512MB of RAM. It would be foolish for Microsoft to shut the door on its most popular smartphone, so it’s safe to say that it will likely get a pass.

Nokia Lumia 520

Microsoft’s position on upgrades is understandable, and pretty consistent with Apple’s stance on upgrading older devices to the newest versions of iOS. IOS 8 was released in September 2014 with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and supports devices dating back to iPhone 4s, which was released in 2011. Likewise, older iOS devices never get full access to all the features available in the latest version of iOS either due to inadequate hardware support or Apple’s decision to nudge users to upgrade.