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January 31st aiming to be official start of Windows Phone 7.8 update program by Microsoft

Although Microsoft itself has been officially mum on when the Windows Phone 7.8 update will go out to the masses, the end of January is coming into focus as the target date.

On the face of it, Windows Phone 7.8 is a minor update bringing only the ability to use three different size tiles on the Start screen, reflecting the Windows Phone 8 paradigm in addition to some smaller, device specific enhancements. But based user experience, 7.8 really does make a difference in perception, making older devices feel more modern.

Confirmations

Evidence for an end-of-January global rollout derives from a few carriers who have proclaimed the date through their official PR channels like Twitter or even their website. A new piece of evidence though coming from Microsoft has been revealed today, reinforcing the launch time-frame.

First up is O2 who mentioned the 7.8 update recently in a fairly specific tweet. When asked by a customer when the update would be available, the popular UK carrier responded with “by the end of January”.

Yesterday, we reported on Australia’s Telstra expecting the much-anticipated OS update for the Lumia 800 also by January 31st (although other Windows Phone devices are still in testing, with a rollout anticipated in February or early March). WPArea.de also recently reported that O2 Germany tweeted the same timeframe regarding the Lumia 710, citing January for that push.

Now, Windows Phone Colombia via their Facebook page has landed on this date of January 31st as being key for the 7.8 update. In an announcement post on their page, the Latin American branch of Windows Phone proclaimed:

“As of January 31 and during the first quarter of 2013 some phones with Windows Phone 7.5 will be receiving 7.8 update... Happy weekend.” (Translated by Bing)

Once again, the information is specific and thru official channels.

When will Microsoft make it formal?

We don’t want to make guaranteed predictions here folks, but that’s four official sources all arriving on the same date for a Windows Phone 7.8. Even more interesting is the fact of how spread out they are: Colombia, Australia, Germany, the UK and we bet there are more.

We should temper excitement though as Telstra demonstrated that the majority of their devices won’t have 7.8 on January 31st and we have a feeling that will be the case for a lot of carriers. In other words, some high-profile (and previously bestselling devices) will get first priority for this update with others falling in line thereafter.

For our US readers, we still have heard not a peep from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile (no one really believes Sprint will do this update). Of course, AT&T has been pretty good at keeping these update releases internal until the last minute and Verizon has a known history of slow rollouts. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has the best record for fast deployment of Microsoft OS updates and we expect the same here.

To wrap it up, we’re strongly confident that Microsoft will begin a global rollout starting January 31st for Windows Phone 7.8. That doesn’t mean everyone will get it that day but rather the process (which will go through March) will begin on that date.

We now expect Microsoft to make an official announcement in the coming days.

Source: Facebook; Thanks, Rosa M. and Alexis, for the tip!

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