Listen up Windows 7.8 and Windows 8 phone users: Microsoft is shutting down support for these phones. Soon, Microsoft will no longer offer upgrades or fixes for Windows 7.8 or Windows 8 phone users. This news has been all over the Internet, but does this mean that you're stuck with your current phone? Not necessarily. This is really quite normal (really!). Details below.
These Dates Are Important
On July 8, 2014, support for Windows Phone 8 will end. On September 9, 2014, support for Windows 7.8 will end. Why? Microsoft includes something called "life-cycle start dates" with all of the company's phones. From the day of these start dates, Microsoft offers 18 months of support.
Since the start date for Windows Phone 8 is officially December 14, 2013, and the start date for Windows Phone 7.8 is February 9, 2013, 18 months following these dates is July 8th, 2014, and September 9th, 2014, respectively.
Ending support for these phones on specific dates lets Windows users know exactly how long support will be available. Most companies do phase out support for various devices, though few companies often forewarn users. Really, though, this news isn't such a big deal.
Why You Shouldn't Panic
Microsoft will be introducing a new OS sometime this December. Presumably, all current MS devices will be supported. So, that means that you can update your current phone to the new OS, and continue on your merry way. What you can't do is continuing using the old OS after the new one has been released. Well, you can, but you will not be able to gain support for that OS if you need help.
Simply put, Microsoft is putting all of its eggs in the new OS basket. Hopefully, the new OS will live up to the expectations. Sometimes, users become attached to current OS options, and, sometimes, new OS upgrades aren't great (iOS is a perfect example of failed upgrades). There's no word yet as to when Microsoft officially intends to release the new OS. However, rumour on the street is that the new OS will show up sometime around the holiday season.
Short Lived Operating Systems
If you think that Microsoft's current 18-month OS lifecycle is short, take a look at other companies. Most iOS systems only last for 13 months, max, while some last for less than 6 months. Other companies leave well enough alone for less than 18 months, so Microsoft isn't alone here. These times can also be cut shorter if new OS upgrades include some major bugs (as has been the case with iOS).
For those that have any problems with current Microsoft OS options, it's a good idea to work on fixing those right now. Sure, none of the current OS problems will matter in a year or so, but that's a long time to wait. At least Microsoft lets you know when a new OS will arrive, and that's always a good thing. So, there you have it: nothing to panic about, really. Microsoft won't be supporting current OS's in a short while, but upgrades for all devices all be available.