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Microsoft today announced some information surrounding a new release of its Windows Phone software that will go some way to answering some of the most oft-asked questions – when will Windows Phone 7.8 be released, and who will be able to take advantage of it?

Well, Microsoft today said that it expects to begin shipping Windows Phone 7.8 during the first quarter of 2013, so some time within the next four months. Not exactly a concrete release date, but more than we had this morning.

Windows-Phone-Apollo

As for who will be receiving said update, Microsoft confirmed that existing Windows Phone 7.5 hardware will see the new operating system at launch, as will new devices shipping around that time. With Windows Phone 8 now very much at the forefront of all of Microsoft’s mobile advertising campaigns, why would the company persist with the Windows Phone 7.x moniker on new devices?

The answer is simple. Microsoft needs to build its market share as quickly as possible, and the easiest way to do that is to sell cheaper handsets than everyone else. That’s exactly how Google’s Android has gotten itself into the position it is today – by offering devices across the board, with low-end, mid range and high-end devices making sure all tastes are catered for.

With Windows Phone 7.8, Microsoft has something it can market to the lower end of the scale, and push onto devices that hardware and carrier partners may wish to sell at a reduced rate when compared to Windows Phone 8. It’s a differentiator, and an important one at that.

Microsoft also took the opportunity to announce that it has opened the ability to buy apps up to more markets, with the number rising to 95 – an increase of around 30%.

Both the news that older devices are set to receive an update, and the addition of new product lines bearing the software next year will aim to give both pundits and consumers a little confidence that the brand is not going away any time soon, despite both iOS and Android currently dominating the market.

Is there room for a third? This is a question which only time can reveal. Let’s wait.

(source WindowsPhoneBlog)

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