An update on Windows Phone 7.8

It’s been an exciting month since we officially launched Windows Phone 8. Devices are in stores, reviews are out, and ads are appearing on TV. Feedback so far has been great, and we’re really enjoying seeing how much our customers love the new Start screen. It’s especially fun to see people posting screenshots of their Start screens all over Facebook, Twitter, and sites like http://mytil.es and http://whatsonyourstartscreen.com. As you’ll quickly notice, each is as unique as its owner; the new Start screen is one of the easiest ways to make the phone reflect your style, your passions, and your personality.

The Start screen on Windows Phone 8The Start screen on Windows Phone 8

Reviewers agree:

“It’s not a stretch to say that Windows Phone 8 has the best home screen — the perfect combination of flexibility, design, and simplicity — of any major platform right now.” The Verge

“Someone who glanced over my shoulder and looked at the user interface of Windows Phone 8 said, ‘That’s a really pretty phone.’ He was right.” –Wall Street Journal

“The live tiles and the distinctive user interface remain Microsoft’s biggest selling points for Windows Phone.” –Associated Press

But it’s not just Windows Phone 8 users that get to enjoy the new Start screen. As previously announced, with Windows Phone 7.8 we’re also bringing the feature to existing Windows Phone 7.5 devices. During the development process, I used builds of 7.8 on my Lumia 900 and it felt like a completely new phone: resizable Live Tiles totally change the way I do things, providing faster access to more of my favorite people, photos, and apps.

Windows Phone 7.8 also includes some other cool stuff. It doubles the number of theme and accent colors—to 20—so you can make your phone even more personal. There are also new lock screen features: the option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day plus the ‘A1B2C3’ PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes on phones connected to Exchange accounts.

And there are new apps coming for Windows Phone 7.5 and 7.8 customers. The hugely popular Words with Friends and Draw Something are already available, while Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars are on the way.

New models running Windows Phone 7.8 are beginning to launch in many countries around the world, strengthening the ecosystem by bringing more Windows Phones to more people. These devices will typically be sold at a range of lower price points, meaning there will now be Windows Phones for everyone’s budget and need. This is incredibly important for broadening the reach of Windows Phone across the globe and ensuring we have the right product for every market.

Speaking of broader reach, Windows Phone 7.8 also expands the number of markets where customers can buy apps and use the Xbox service. Testing of this rollout is ongoing, but we’ve already managed to increase our global service coverage by over 30%, to 95 countries—a number that should continue to rise.

We know you’re eager to get the Windows Phone 7.8 update, and we want you to know that we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services.

Thank you for your support of Windows Phone.

-Terry

Corporate Vice President, Windows Phone