New Microsoft mobile head Terry Myerson says that Apple's habit of releasing software updates for current iPhones is really just a way to sell more hardware.
Myerson was speaking to financial analysts at the Mobile World Congress on Wednesday.
A questioner noted that Apple releases software updates for current phones, and was asking if Microsoft would do the same thing.
Myerson didn't answer, since Microsoft hasn't even announced its next mobile platform. But he did take the opportunity to slam Apple:
I think Apple ‑‑ you're right, you can download iOS 5 for iPhone 3G, and it won't be usable, but it's possible to install .... It's a great hardware sales tool as far as I can tell. Install this OS which makes your hardware unusably slow, so then you feel compelled to go back to the store and buy a new piece of hardware. [Editor: he probably meant the 3GS, not the 3G, which doesn't support iOS5.]
He also said that Android phones don't get updated at all:
Statistically speaking, no Android phones get upgraded, none, ever. They have big bugs, they don't even get patched. That's what we're seeing statistically out there.
Myerson just took over for Andy Lees in December. If this is how he rolls, we like it.
But there's a reason why the questioner kept pressing him on this point.
Last month, word leaked that Microsoft's next phone platform would be based on the same underlying technology (the Windows NT kernel) as Windows 8. That's quite different than the Windows CE kernel that the current Windows Phones use, and might not work as efficiently (or at all) on existing phones. That's why the questioner kept pressing.
Myerson's hedging answer makes us think that Microsoft will follow the Android model, at least for very old Windows Phones. But that's just a hunch.
That said, Myerson promised that most current Windows Phone apps would still work on the next version, with no further work necessary from developers. (He promised "binary compatibility," meaning they won't have to be recompiled, as opposed to "source compatibility".)
That's a surprise. It suggests that Windows Phone 8 (or whatever it ends up being called) will include some sort of virtualization or emulation -- the same kind of technology that allows very old apps to run on Windows 7, for instance.
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