Seeing as Microsoft is busy showing off the new Start screen for Windows Phone 7.8 and knowing so far that it is the only announced feature coming with that update, speculation as to when we will get the update is on the tips of everyone's tongues.
We just received a copy of an internal AT&T document which reveals that the 7.8 update won't come out until after new Windows Phone 8 devices launch. New Windows Phone 8 devices are not expected until the fall, putting the 7.8 update off untill very late in the year.
The document was for specific AT&T employees and it breaks down to the reps what the Windows Phone Summit involved including details on Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.8, updates and more. Regarding the 7.8 update, the document states the following:
When will Windows Phone 7.8 be available?
Windows Phone 7.8 will be made available sometime after the Windows Phone 8 is released.
Although we have verified that this was from AT&T and it seems quite definitive on the matter, we should leave a little wiggle room here for Microsoft. We have seen a lot of changes recently, including the dropping of one display resolution (480x640) just a few weeks ago from Windows Phone 8. That modification happened just two weeks prior to the Summit demonstrating how fluid Microsoft can be on these matters.
Having said that, it's not looking too good for consumers if the 7.8 update is that far off, especially if Microsoft and AT&T tease current Windows Phone users with new WP8 hardware. In addition, AT&T reaffirms that it is only the new Start screen that is coming to WP7.8. Then again, perhaps Microsoft is planning to add more with all of that extra time. We can only hope.
Update: Joe Belfiore actually says the same thing on the Windows Phone Blog "So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released"
Read the contents of the internal memo after the break. Thanks to our source for the info.