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Remember Windows Phone 7? Of course you do, you might even still be using it. Figures released in July 2014 indicate 17.7% of all Windows Phone users are running the original version or one of its upgrades. This represents around 8.5 million of the 50 million Windows Phone devices in regular use (based on figures from AdDuplex) at the end of 2013.

While this is obviously an estimation, it remains a significant number of devices.

With the impending end of support, the regular closing of significant apps and the inability to upgrade devices to Windows Phone 8/8.1, the time has come for users to explore alternatives to Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7: What Went Wrong?

Windows Phone 7 was to many a feature phone writ large with smartphone sensibilities, a problem that wasn’t really overcome until Windows Phone 7.8 was released – slowly – in 2012.

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As a Windows Mobile user from 2005-2009, I was surprised at how common tasks were seemingly impossible, or at best difficult, on the new platform, launched in late 2010.

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Blogging, remote desktop and the ability to easily apply email settings with CAB files were among the many tasks that were possible to achieve with Windows Mobile 6. Many hacker developers on this platform went on to work on Android, which gives you an idea of the culture that surrounded Windows Mobile.

By contrast, Windows Phone 7 was “locked down” and released without the necessary APIs to enable app developers to create useful tools. This was one of the main reasons why developers steered clear, resulting in a platform with a limited selection of apps.

The result was a phone that relied on the all-important 7.5 and 7.8 updates to be really usable.

Sadly, by the time Windows Phone 7.8 came along, Windows Phone 8 was already available. With greater features and no upgrade path, it was in 2012 that Windows Phone 7 was really put down.

1. Support Ends In September 2014

The fact is, however, that Windows Phone 7 is a has-been, an unsupported a mobile OS. Even the final update, Windows Phone 7.8, will no longer be maintained by Microsoft as of September 2014.

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This doesn’t just mean no more updates. It means that Microsoft will no longer have to provide support pages on its website, and effectively serves users with notice on use of the update servers – a factory reset might leave you with the basic Windows Phone 7 on your handset rather than Windows Phone 7.5 or 7.8.

Naturally, Microsoft wants its mobile users to be running Windows Phone 8.1, which as of July 2014 was an 11.9% segment of its market.

2. Microsoft Pulls Skype From Windows Phone 7.8

Microsoft’s purchase of Skype has been a story of strange decisions, from ending the peer-to-peer nature of the service to launching a Windows 8 app which is less pleasing to use than eating a plate of rice at Al Weiwei’s house.

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Their latest blinder is to kill off the Windows Phone 7 version of Skype, due to a new software architecture being adopted for the popular VoIP app. This isn’t something that is coming – it’s already been implemented, and it isn’t an ending of support, it’s a deactivation of the servers that provide data to the app. Conversely, Android 2.3 and iPhone 4 versions of Skype still work.

It would seem that Windows Phone 7 isn’t important enough to be included in this new era for Skype, despite the significant 17.7% portion of the Windows Phone market that it represents.

What might Microsoft end support for next on Windows Phone 7? Exchange email?

3. No Cortana, Limited Voice Support

This might seem trivial, but in truth voice search and command is one of the most important segments in current mobile development, alongside wearable technology and automotive integration. While Windows Phone 7 has some voice support (as explained in our Windows Phone 7 guide), it is limited compared to what is available on other platforms.

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Cortana is expected to hit the next version of Windows. Xbox One already has voice command tools, also expected to be developed further as the three operating systems converge.

Is Cortana the real reason why Windows Phone 7 was not given an upgrade path to Windows Phone 8? We’ll probably never know, but the lack of a robust voice tool is genuinely a good reason to move on – just look at what Cortana can do for you in the car How To Use Cortana As Your Personalized Satnav Tool How To Use Cortana As Your Personalized Satnav Tool How would you like a competent co-pilot, who arranges your travels, feeds you with tips and location-based reminders and is sexy, too? Take Cortana everywhere and win at life! Read More .

What Can You Do?

We’ve outlined above three good reasons why you need to upgrade your Windows Phone 7 device, but what should you upgrade to?

Regular MakeUseOf readers will know that I’m a long-standing Windows Phone user, currently using the 8.1 Developer Preview How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now If you want to speak to Cortana and get access to other cool new features, you will have to wait until June at least. Unless you'd update early. Like now. Read More (although my current day-to-day phone is the HTC One Why I Quit Windows Phone And Switched To Android Why I Quit Windows Phone And Switched To Android In 2010 I bought my first Windows Phone device, beginning a love affair with the slick user interface and writing endless posts and user guides, generally evangelising the platform. So why have I switched to... Read More ). However, I would not advise any Windows Phone 7 owner to take the Windows Phone route again. After all, you’ve already been stung once. Why would you risk it again?

On the other hand, if you haven’t been upgraded to Windows Phone 7.8 yet and have a few months before you need to make a decision, then I would advise you upgrade to it as soon as possible. If your carrier network has been slow in upgrading you, there is a chance that you could use the SevenEighter app to force the update. You might also check what differences and similarities there are between Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? As a long term user of Windows Phone 7, the decision to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 was made all the more difficult by Microsoft’s revelation that they wouldn’t be completely abandoning the older release.... Read More .

Ultimately, however, Microsoft has royally screwed Windows Phone 7 users. Unless you completely fell in love with the OS, there would be no need to be loyal to Microsoft, so don’t be put off switching to iPhone, Android or BlackBerry.

Are you due an upgrade from Windows Phone 7? Has the latest news about the platform left you angry? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

  1. Cliff
    September 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Got win phone 7 on HTC 7 Mozart. Nice phone- but rendered useless by the OS. Now can't do much withit, won't update, no google maps or any others, won't run videos, even many static websites are mangled by the browser now. My old Nokia feature-phone is now smarter than my supposedly 'smart' phone. Will NEVER have another Windows phone- will use Android, might hold my nose and get a hipsterPhone (!) or even a Blackberry. Failing all that I would abandon smartphones altogether and go back to a Nokia 6210 rather than touch another Wankdows phone! Thanks a bunch Microshit.

  2. Joseph
    March 13, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I'll buy a Android device cause lack of Windows phone apps. And i'm tired of being abandoned first with webOS, now with WP 7.8. More... WP is not multitask and sometimes close apps when open another.

  3. Yura
    February 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    I'm one of that users who had windows phone 7 smartphone. When microsoft disabled skype on my phone I desided to change OS. I'm using iPhone now, and I think I would never come back to Windows OS.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 12, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Quite understandable. Killing Skype on WP7 was madness. It was bad enough on Windows Mobile 6.5, but at least back then Skype wasn't owned by Microsoft.

  4. david
    November 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I feel cheated by Microsoft.
    I usually only only give a company one chance. As far as Microsoft is concerned i think they employ a disparate group of developers that the bosses dont keep an eye on. For a company that has had so many years of experience, why do they get so many things wrong ?

  5. abhishek
    September 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Removing any services seems like your device on rent with u....e.g. You purchased your freeze and somebody after 1 year come back to u and take away freezer part and says...your freeze has only the cooling facility ice facility is not avl.now. For that you have to buy new refregerator.

    Nothing in our hands...i am suffering going with microsoft...they've removed skype from windows 7.8..its like they have cheated.....!

  6. abhishek
    September 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Removing any services seems like your device on rent with u....e.g. You purchased your freeze and somebody after 1 year come back to u and take away freezer part and says...your freeze has only the cooling facility ice facility is not avl.now. For that you have to buy new refregerator.

    Nothing in our hands...i am suffering going with microsoft...they've removed skype from windows 7.8..its like they have cheated.....!

  7. Ekus
    September 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    As a loyal user of WP7, I've been struggling to find a good (lightweight!) replacement for my 1st gen Samsung Focus. My friends are happy with the dirt-cheap Lumia 520 I recommended them (though I warned them I wouldn't "upgrade" myself due to worse camera). Seeing them totally in love with Cortana, I wouldn't switch to any other platform, now that WP really shines. Of course I would like to keep my Samsung, but I feel that my mission as an early adopter has been fulfilled.

  8. Prayaas
    September 1, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Hello, Christian. You've written a nice article - please don't let these people get into you. While I agree (from experience) that resetting a Windows Phone 7 devices does not revert back updates, I also see that having mentioned otherwise isn't as big an issue as people are making it.

    Microsoft didn't intend to screw Windows Phone 7. I think Windows Phone 8 just wasn't ready in time, and Nokia made WP7 devices which is what led to the problems. As a Windows Phone 7.0 user, I appreciate the updates I've received and honestly, I used to think, "Wow, how can a platform get so many updates and new features?" I didn't have multitasking, Xbox Live, the ability to resume apps, threaded messaging, linked inboxes and a lot more. Now, obviously, Nokia devices were already at Windows Phone 7.5, so they didn't see much of an improvement over time. I don't think I blame anyone for this: Microsoft's been unlucky.

    I'll tend to agree a little with Brian over the point that suggesting a switch to other platforms is a little too extreme. The language makes it sound more like provocation than an earnest piece of advice. Finally, it is up to you - I think the "degree of screw-up" is subjective and based on perspective, so you are entitled to your own opinion.

  9. dave
    August 31, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    My wife got us into Win-9 phones and I cannot believe that this is what is offered. I can no longer send a text to an e-mail. when I go into photo and select a photo, then press delete, I get that Microsoft specific "I know you have already taken multiple steps to reach this point and I know you have already pressed the delete key, but you now need to confirm that your obvious multiple selections to reach this point is what you really want to do" of course, if you just typed 60 words in an e-mail and went for that period at the end of the sentence and missed that tiny button that is nestled among multiple other buttons. THAT will instantly destroy your work with no option to retrieve it.

    I do not trust MS with any of my personal information and their insistence on tracking my movements and trying in all my accounts so that it is easier for anyone to see everything I do, that is irritating. but the simple fact that I do not have permission on my own phone to access ANY part of the 'store' and need someone else to create and give me permission on something called a Family, that is beyond belief.

    As soon as an Android replacement is available for this phone, it will be good-bye MS. I do not want to be controlled. I do not want to have to ask permission from anyone else to use my phone and I certainly do not want to have all my accounts linked so that anyone who has access, and Snowden proved that the access is an open door for anyone but me.

  10. Brian
    August 30, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Wow Christian! I'm impressed by your intransigence and lack of desire to incorporate context.

    As another reader mentioned you've backed up your claim about "a factory reset might leave you with the basic Windows Phone 7 on your handset rather than Windows Phone 7.5 or 7.8" with a reference to the Developers Preview Program on Windows Phone 8. As the other commenter stated it is in fact a "Developers Preview" (hence the CAPS) and not a Windows Phone 7 program. In other words your "proof" that OS updates in Windows Phone 7 can be removed by a hard reset is not shown by your comment about the Developers Preview. I suggest that is sloppy, inaccurate writing and shows your bias.

    As to whether or not you mentioned market share in your suggestion to switch to Blackberry I find irrelevant and another possibility of bias on your part. In your response you compare BlackBerry with Windows Phone 7 devices and find WP 7 lacking. Why compare BB to Windows Phone 7 devices and not Windows Phone 8 devices?

    Finally you suggest that I am defending Windows Phone 7 and I really am not. What I find inappropriate is your suggestion to drop Windows Phone over an issue that is very common in the tech world. From Windows XP and various types of IE or DirectX to Android itself there are many examples of older software no longer being supported. This behavior has been happening for decades and people in the tech world are used to the need to upgrade to a newer version in order to get new features and keep support. Whether or not people are happy about "planned obsolescence" it is so common that I find your suggestion "After all, you’ve already been stung once. Why would you risk it again?" in bad faith and an expression of bias.

  11. Drew
    August 29, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I found the article helpful. I've been an iPhone user and an Android user and while both I think are much more modern platforms than Blackberry (maybe it's just my perception but I go by feature set and desirable app support) this has given me insight into what life would be like with a Windows Phone. It doesn't sound like where I want to go.

    Apple gives updates for 3-4 years and doesn't cut out key features. How many years has Windows phone 7 been out? It looks like about 4 years so that puts them on par with Apple. However Microsoft is cutting out services and features to gimp the platform and that makes it worse.

    Android is fragmented and carriers suck at deploying updates but that's the fault of the carriers, not the Android platform. Google (equivalent to Microsoft here) regularly updates and if you buy a Nexus device you get instant access we know.

    So I think an educated person can go either Android or iPhone and stay up to date for a while. People that buy crappo Android phones for cheap get what they pay for while the S5's, Moto X's, and HTC devices are all good choices.

    I enjoyed the article.

  12. jkl
    August 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Dumb article... Be easier to just say ' I hate anything Microsoft!

    • Christian C
      August 29, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      It would be easier, you're right. It would also be wholly inaccurate.

      (I wrote this reply on a Microsoft Surface Pro, with a Nokia Lumia 920 charging just a few inches below the comments box.)

    • Christian C
      August 29, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      I must say, it's good of you to spend a few moments educating yourself on the topic this time around.

      Your complaint about BlackBerry is spurious. It is irrelevant. Nowhere do I raise market share. The OS, and the new devices, are sound, and better than Windows Phone 7. I suggest them as upgrade options because compared with WP7 that is what they are.

      I'm not sure why you felt the need to capitalise THE DEVELOPERS PREVIEW. Perhaps you were pointing out that I was in some way being dumb in not expecting it to behave in that way (although you subsequently once again attempt to deny it can happen) despite it being quite clearly labelled: DEVELOPER'S PREVIEW.

      I get you, I do. Your defence of Windows Phone 7 is admirable, but unfortunately the ship has sailed. My job here isn't to cheerlead, it is to give readers good, solid advice that they can use. Please bear that in mind. If you don't like my advice, I suggest you contact the editors.

      Why you're being so aggressively rude is beyond me, however.

  13. Brian
    August 29, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    What a crappy article. How many Android users are stuck on older versions of Android with no help of updating. Also suggesting that BlackBerry is a feasible update choice is a farce. Finally doing a factory reset does not remove OS updates, that's a stupid comment.

    • Christian C
      August 29, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      I'm sorry, I'm going to have to take issue with your comment.

      The article is about Windows Phone 7, not any version of Android. The situations are quite different - Android was a mature OS from around 2.3 onwards; Microsoft should have been pitching a Windows Phone 8-like experience with the first attempt (which of course wasn't the first attempt, was it? Abandoning Windows Mobile, as alluded to in the article, was a major mistake. Look at it this way: you can't upgrade from Windows Mobile 6.5 to Windows Phone 7. You can't upgrade from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 7 was a stopgap.)

      BlackBerry is a more than feasible choice. Read the linked article. I spent plenty of time with that device, with barely a problem.

      Factory resetting a Windows Phone 8 device running the 8.1 Developer Preview has on two occasions in the past month removed the update (while attempting to find a work around to the 0x80188308 error).

      But don't let facts get in the way of leaving an insulting post.

    • Brian
      August 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Your article is largely about the "lack of support" and the dead end inability to upgrade from Windows Phone 7 without jumping to Windows Phone 8. Even your response to me emphasizes the inability of updating from Windows Mobile 6.5 to WP 7 or WP 8.

      This inability to upgrade is endemic in Android, the level of fragmentation is well known and widely reported. Yes, your article is "about Windows Phone 7, not any version of Android" yet you raise a concern that is just as appropriate to Android as it is to Windows Phone.

      What is the market share of Blackberry these days? I expect that it is continued freefall.

      Finally you suggest that you had an OS update removed while using the DEVELOPERS PREVIEW. While I've never heard of that happening I have done hard resets with OTA updates on several occasions and have never had an OS update removed. From my reading at Windows Phone Central OS removal even with a Developers Preview is unusual if not unknown.

      Don't let a biased review lacking context stop you.

    • bobby
      August 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Christian,

      You made a comment on a reset removing the OS updates to 7.5 or 7.8, but when Brian called you on it, you talked only about remove the 8.1 PREVIEW. A preview is a limited release to test or showcase new software, that is completely different from what you said in the article about 7.5 and 7.8.
      Skype since you have no idea what changes they are making, how can you or any other writer comment about it being removed from WP7? Perhaps there are things coming the wp7 API simply can't do, just like you can't install Office 2013 on older Windows versions.
      Cortana, again, it came out with WP8, which has a very different set of API's that WP7, new things come out all the time, that are not backward compatible.

  14. Southener
    August 29, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Having a Windows 7 phone and receiving updates (up-to 7.8) is more than most Android users may count on. Most Android handsets are abandoned as soon as they hit the shelfs. I know there are some exceptions but they are scarse and pricy

  15. captain obvious
    August 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Realistically Windows phone 7 isn't that great. With even the low end Windows 8.1 phones blowing away any Windows 7 devices it doesn't make sense to keep them. Upgrade to the 630 or a used 520 if price is an issue. You won't regret it.

  16. wp7user
    August 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    MSn messenger ends oct 31. :( which is used as messenger for wp7.

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