When Microsoft introduced Windows 10 for phones last month, the on-stage message was that all Windows Phone 8.1 devices would get the upgrade. Now we may have to define the word “upgrade” because there’s a little bit of hedging going on — particularly for handsets with only 512 MB of RAM, which just happens to be the amount in the Lumia 520, the best-selling Windows Phone so far.
Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Operating Systems Group, Joe Belfiore shared some information on the situation over the weekend on Twitter, which The Verge highlighted on Monday:
I’m sure Belfiore’s tweet is genuine: [company]Microsoft[/company] certainly wants Windows 10 on all of the phones already running its software; that strategy is integral for a unified Windows platform across devices. And back in November, the word was that all Lumia handsets actually would run Windows 10. But ambition, hope and dreams are just those. It’s possible that Microsoft can’t meet the goal due to hardware constraints, or perhaps it could and won’t because running Windows 10 on certain hardware configurations might not provide an optimal experience.
When push comes to shove, I think Microsoft will end up dealing with older phones with limited memory in the same way it will deal with Windows RT devices: Provide an custom-tailored update that is called Windows 10 but does not include every feature.
That’s surely better than the Windows Phone 7.8 debacle, where phones were left behind and couldn’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. But it could leave some handset owners with a sour taste if they backed Microsoft’s mobile strategy only to end up missing some of the latest and greatest features. My Lumia 520 and I will be waiting to see how this shakes out.