Following yesterday's news that Microsoft is expected to call its Tango update "Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh", there is a good - or in this case - a bad chance that Tango will be the last major Windows Phone update for the first generation of Windows Phone 7 devices, Microsoft launched in October 2010. According to several unconfirmed information we've received during last month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft will keep its minimum device requirements up and alive for Windows Phone Apollo, which is rumored to be called Windows Phone 8. While Windows Phone 7.x required single-core CPUs and a WVGA screen resolution, it's said that Windows Phone Apollo will require dual-core CPUs and a higher, more state-of-the-art, screen resolution.
As a matter of fact, this would mean that none of today's Windows Phone devices would match the upcoming Apollo platform requirements, doesn't matter if the device would theoretically or technically being capable to run Apollo. Therefore it would mean that - still hard to believable but said in Barcelona - none of today's Windows Phones would receive the Windows Phone Apollo upgrade but first generation Windows Phones will continue to run on Windows Phone 7.5 (Refresh) only!
When we asked the major manufactureres in Barcelona about their upgrade plans, all of them declinded to comment; not to say that they looked at me as they have never heard about Microsoft's "Apollo" project name. Furthermore all of them declided to comment why they only announced Android devices in Barcelona but not a single Windows Phone. However, if we keep in mind that none of the major Windows Phone OEMs announced a new Windows Phone in Barcelona, except Nokia, it could be indeed an indication that the all the (major) OEMs as well as carriers skipped Tango for new devices but will wait for Apollo instead; to make sure the new devices are future proof. And Nokia only announced the Lumia 610, which is nevertheless a low-end device anyway which was never designed to meet Apollo requirements, as well as the international launch of the Lumia 900, a device which existed before already. But also ZTE's new Orbit Windows Phone, which was also announced in Barcelona, is a low-end Windows Phone, targetting a different customer and price group.
If the information above turns out to be true, it potentially annoys a lot of early Windows Phone adopters. Keeping in mind that a best-seller like the Lumia 800 as well as the upcoming Lumia 900 are hardly 12 months old when Windows Phone 8 will hit the ground end of this year. It would mean that first generation Windows Phone customers will be left out in the rain for at least another 12 months, before they can get a new device from their carriers.
Another interesting news came from a more tablet focused sources. While Windows 8 for x86 CPUs and Windows 8 for ARM SoC (System on Chip) CPUs are virtually the same, Windows 8 for SoC won't be able to run x86 Windows 8 apps but will use the Windows Phone 8 Marketplace apps instead! That's the reason why Windows 8 for SoC is expected to be shiped out of the box with Microsoft Office - which is said to be a kind of expanded and more powerfull Windows Phone Office. This means that Windows Phone will virtually come to tablets, even if it's expected that it won't be called "Windows Phone 8 for Tablet" or something simillar (the namings are yet totally unclear). Indeed an interesting rumor, that Microsoft will split Windows 8 into two tablet versions, one for x86 CPUs and one for SoC ARM CPUs, both targeting different price points and customers, balanced by Windows Phone 8 for smartphones and Windows 8 for Notebooks and desktop PCs.
UPDATE 17.04.12: The Verge has received further information which confirms our information above: "Now, a trusted source close to Microsoft tells us [...] that instead there will be no upgrade path from Mango to Apollo. This matches up with a previous report from Mary Jo Foley and explains the particular language Microsoft used when it responded to the story earlier today, saying "We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases"."
Cheers ~ Arne