Microsoft is making a clean break with the Windows Phone 7 Series and new handset requirements. But there’s a handset or two that might have the necessary “oomph” to handle the new operating system. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like any official upgrades will be appearing.


It’s pretty clear that Microsoft is making a clean break from Windows Mobile. Sure, the platform will be supported for some time, but the future is Windows Phone 7 and the standardized requirements for devices to run it. Do most Windows Mobile device owners expect an upgrade to the latest and greatest? Probably not. But what about the HTC HD2 — arguably the most capable current WinMo phone and certainly among the most recent? Even with the 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, it doesn’t appear that an official upgrade will make it to this portable powerhouse.

Natasha Kwan, a Microsoft General Manager in the Asia-Pacific region, tells APC Magazine that “[b]ecause we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series the current phones we have right now will not be upgradable.” That statement doesn’t name the HD2 specifically, but Tony Wilkinson, Business Operations Director for Microsoft Australia, put a potential nail in the coffin saying “there are some hardware components that the HD doesn’t have.” There’s also commentary about the number of buttons on the HD2. Since it doesn’t have exactly three, it apparently doesn’t qualify for the Chassis #1 design as specified by Microsoft.

I expect that the XDA-Developers site will end up building a Windows Phone 7 build for the HD2, if not other relatively new devices, so it’s likely that unofficial upgrades will be possible. Officially, I’d think it difficult for Microsoft to make an exception for the HD2, assuming it truly doesn’t meet the still-internal hardware requirements that Microsoft has. If it allows an upgrade for the HD2 then will owners of a Toshiba TG01 ask for it too? What looks like a clean break quickly becomes a fragmented mess in this case — which is exactly what Microsoft is trying to rectify and something that Google might be considering as well with Android.

We have some current HD2 owners overseas and I’m sure some U.S. readers are anxiously awaiting the device on T-Mobile — any thoughts on the upgrade potential for this phone? What about for Windows Mobile 6.5.3 and older devices?

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

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  1. GoodThings2Life Monday, March 1, 2010

    I’d love to run Windows Phone 7 on the HD2… but, for being patient and waiting on the phones to be announced, I suspect we’ll be rewarded with better specs. I’m still anticipating to see a device or two with a Tegra chip (a la Zune HD), which is precisely what produces the smooth rotations we see when web browsing on the Zune.

    Or maybe this is just my wishful thinking since I’m bitter about Sprint not getting the HD2…

  2. Fred Beiderbecke Monday, March 1, 2010

    One of the things that was appealing about the HD2 was the announcement that it would upgrade.

    If not, I need to rethink my phone plans.

  3. im rethinking it 2 !!:(

  4. I’m still buying the HTC HD2 from T-Mobile on March 24th….the phone is still badass to pass up.

  5. The ability of unofficial upgrades assumes that Microsoft’s stance regarding XDA remains unchanged. Considering nothing regarding Microsoft’s previous mobile strategy is the same anymore, I’d really question this. I foresee MSFT’s legal department being very busy in 2011, with most of their time consumed with sending and enforcing cease and desist / DMCA notices.

  6. Kind of amusing. On the eve of the US launch of the HTC HD2, Microsoft kills it by announcing that no current Windows Phone will be upgradeable to the new system.

    We can now sit back and watch a textbook example of the Osborne Effect kick in. Sales of all Windows Phones will plummet.

    1. We all pretty much knew something like this would happen, considering the fact that the HD2 would be released in the U.S. well after WM7 would be announced. Let’s just hope that HTC (and U.S. carriers) don’t interpret the HD2’s failure in the U.S. as a sign that U.S. consumers aren’t interested in high end smartphones.

  7. Like I said the other day, the announcement of WP7 will more than likely result in current handsets becoming pretty much obsolete in many people’s minds, and predicate a big flop in existing handset sales. Knowing what we know today, can you still justify shelling out $600 for an unlocked TP2?

    TMO may be taking a huge gamble with the HD2 IMO. True, the XDA folks have done some amazing things so far, and in that respect, I would still consider the 6.5.5 not just a performer, but an important existing platform. Hedge all your bets on a future platform while dumping the current user base? That’s not a smart move!

    HTC may have a say in some of this, for I would not think they would be happy if their handsets don’t sell well, especially considering that the current 6.x OS is still to come with handsets for quite a few more months.

  8. I think MS just killed the existing market. Time to to Android.

  9. I don’t its not about having more than 3 buttons but it is about not having Search button. Besides this, it is all about making new market with all new devices.

  10. Colin English Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    I have had an HTC HD2 for several months now and think it is an excellent phone even running WinMo 6.5. The Sense GUI is very well designed and productive. I use it for social networking, and work management, and have it connected to the net all day.

    MS intends to keep WinMo 6.5 going after WP7 is launched, so the HD2 is by no means obsolete before it is released to the US market. If the HD2 gets a WP7 upgrade, all well and good. But it was released before MS published the WP7 minimum hardware spec, so I doubt MS/HTC can be held to vague upgrade promises.

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