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Hands on with the 7.8 OS update for AT&T's Nokia Lumia 900

Although Microsoft has not yet said anything official on the Windows Phone 7.8 Global Rollout, we are expecting devices to be begin getting updates around January 31st.

As we reported yesterday, Nokia has uploaded their OS update for the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 (review), one of the most high profile devices of 2012. We decided to take it for a spin.

The update is what it was rumored to be: new Tile options and a few other additions. There are no surprises here, folks.

Other new features include:

  • New Accent colors, matching Windows Phone 8, bringing the total to 20 + 1
  • Bing Wallpaper of the day, which will auto-update your lockscreen image. Sadly developers to not have access to this, meaning we don’t expect 3rd party 7.8 apps to have this feature.
  • New boot screen with updated WIndows Phone logo
  • New Office logo, though OneNote is not a seperate app like in WP8

There is no Wi-Fi keep-alive feature, no SMS-call reject and Internet Explorer as far as we can tell is exactly the same. In addition, Office and Zune Music were not updated to either current version or with their rebranding.

The oddest thing is how AT&T opted to have the “look” of the 7.8 match 7.5, meaning on a fresh install you can’t even tell there are different Tile sizes. Users will essentially have to discover this new change on their own.

Although we may sound a bit down on 7.8, we will emphasize that one of the biggest “experiences” with Windows Phone 8 is those new Tiles and Accent colors. If you think about it, it’s the number one thing you interact with on a daily basis. In other words, although this update is light on new features, the ones included will go a long way in making your phone “feel new”. That’s just from our personal experience.

AT&T has not given an official date on this update for the Lumia 900 or other Windows Phones, though seeing as the update is waiting on Nokia’s servers we believe AT&T will be one of the first carriers to deliver to users.

Stay tuned for more.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

188 Comments
  • First
  • Stupid troll go somewhere else you moron
  • Lol
  •   Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home) https://goo.gl/UVFTX   Happy New Year!    
  • I've been bringing in $5600... pimping your Mom.
  • Haha
  • Idk if you did this on purpose, but you replied to yourself...
  • That was the joke, bro.
  • Scroll down.
  • First time the "first" thing is funny. Well done.
  • I loved it!!! 
  • Bahahaha.
  • Epic
  • Lol
  • This WAS funny. Thanks
  • "AT&T has given an official date on this update for the Lumia 900 or other Windows Phones, though seeing as the update is waiting on Nokia’s servers we believe AT&T will be one of the first carriers to deliver to users."  Should be has not given.  Also office has a newer icon on my lumia...idk what that could mean.
  • I don't remember the Office versions from before but on 7.8 the versions are all 14.5 for Office apps
  • Really? Is just that?
    All this months in development and all they do is just the tile sizes and the new accent colours????
     
  • Yep. Cosmetic only.. Shocking.
  • That's more than enough for WP7.
    In time - if the Force is strong in WP7 - MS will bring some other features from WP8...
  • I wouldn't be too sure about that. There aren't anymore WP8 features that aren't HW dependent. (IE10 COULD be an exception, however) 
  • What about screenshot support? That is not hardware-dependent as even 1st-gen devices can run homebrew screenshot apps.
  • Exactly, that was my point...
  • LOL
  • Like Mr Rubino said, the new tile system is a BIG improvement. I have both Wp7.5 and wp8 and i can tell you it's the biggest change worth getting. The other main thing I notice is the speed but that's due to hardware difference. You can't do anything about that without upgrading hw.
  • I don't know about you, but the biggest change I'd love to get is, oh, I dunno, app compatibility? My phone is less than a year old and already there are apps I can't install? Gee, thanks.
  • For what it's worth, my Phone is 2 months old and I can't download apps that I had on WP7.  It's a double edged sword.
  • Obviously MSFT was going to wait a bit before making WP7.8 available. They have from the get so said it would be 'some time after the release of WP8' where 'some time' would obviously mean not soon after. I think the three months they took makes sense from their perspective. It has given people an incentive to jump to a WP8 device.
     
    Running WP7.8 on my L800 makes a big, no HUGE difference in the experience, The tiles sizes are really a life/device changer in this respect. Nokia has also added some extra bits such as the Bluetooth Filetransfer options and some other stuff. I have no doubt there will me more where that came from.
     
    In all honesty, with the rumours of the new Lumia products I am quite happy with the 800 as it is now. While I have the impression WP7.8 is a bit more demanding as far as CPU usage goes it's still quite snappy and a joy to use. I might jump to a 620 in few weeks waiting for whatever Nokia is no doubt going to annouce at MWC to move to a bigger/better/stronger device later this year. WP7.8 has definately made me want a WP8 device sooner rather then later.
  • Did MS ever list what 7.8 would bring other than the Start screen? I don't think so.
  • You're right, they never said it. Some people were just hoping that they would do right by their early adopters and biggest fans. 
  • I know right. People shouldn't be surprised. Its obvious when Microsoft just kept restating the "new start screen" over and over.
  • That's what I was thinking too.  At least give us an updated browser.  Looks like 7.8 is going to arrive with a limp, wet wimper.  All these months of shoving your early supporters to the side only to give them the table scraps.  Thanks Microsoft.  You're a pal.
  • That is the exact reason why I am going to jump ship to BB10. At least for now, I am going to do to MS what they did to me. I'm sure I will come back, unless BB10 totally blows me away like WP7 did. I wrote MS about it trying to get more that just the same "early 2013" mumbo jumbo. They actually had the nerve to reply to my email with the exact same statements I had sent them regarding the "early 2013 release" saying they hoped that the Tim Myerson comments would suffice for now. I didn't even ask for a release date but that they simply give us more info than just a vague comment that they only gave because they finally got pressured into it. I also wanted to mad a comment about trying to make us early adopters feel appreciated. They didn't respond to my 2nd email telling them that they never even answered the questions I had initially sent them. I get the feeling Ballmer is getting a little heat from the board anyway, not because of WP but other things not quite going so well. Maybe we can have a change of command and MS will actually care about existing customers instead of worrying about how to woo new ones.
  • This is a huge disappointment for me. I'd much rather Nokia/MS give me a voucher as an apology for their ridiculous over the top smartphone beta test is over launch of the Lumia 900 so I can actually upgrade to a phone that has the features we expect in a smartphone. This consolation update is a cold slap to the face. #rant
  • I'd much rather win the lottery and never have to work again, but it's not going to happen.
  • LOL
  • +1000 Could not have expressed it any better sir! @sayonical
  • If you really want, I can give you an apology and consolation if it makes any difference... ;)
  • I have no idea why you bought the Nokia 900 when we all knew WP8 would be here sooner rather than later. If you think Windows Phone has slapped you in the face, you better not ever get a non nexus android. What a slap I felt with EVERY android device I ever owned.
  • Please share your list with me because as far as I know games and most apps are still supported for most android phones..wp was the no compromise, beta test is over, amazing phone that was the best of all worlds yet if u don't have windows 8 u don't get certain apps or features and this is still a fairly new OS. android adds new features yes but most of them don't notice or care because the phone and apps still work three versions later. I never seen people get left behind as bad as this 7.5 to 8 jump, there is no incentive to make new apps for wp 7 now and that's gonna hurt some customer loyalty.
  • Hate to say it but i must agree. Looks like I will be making my move to Android. Love the WP OS but Android has a very nice selection of apps and even games that support bluetooth controllers. This is great for someone that travels as much as I do. iOS offers no controller options and a tiny screen and WP has no good games (just crummy puzzlers) and no future hope of any good games. Also I bought the L900 becuase I was watching Nokia owners get all these apps and support while my focus got nothing. I did not use my upgrade because i wanted to wait for WP8 to see if it changed anything but it did not. What has changed it Android and JB offers a much improved and well rounded OS so that is where I will be going. JK Good Android devices like the GS3 are $200 with a 2 year contract which is rediculous and I didnt even spend that much on my L900 out of contract.
  • I'll share my $0.02 . I bought a Motorola Cliq XT android 3 years ago. I Was promised an upgrade from 1.6 to 2.1 for over 12 months by Motorola themselves. . The upgrade went to beta  and they decided not to upgrade it.
    Well, I ended up with a custom 2.3 ROM  which made it infinitely more usable and stable. (it was unstable from day 1) , and made it into the phone it should have been.. a full 18 months after I bought it.
    As for that Android phone,. I fired it up the other day to find 50 % of the apps I'd purchased are neither supported nor available any longer for 2.3 , including Pay Pal among the big ones.
    It's justy a matter of time before someone over at xda hacks windows phone 8 onto most 7.5 devices. (Already been done on a few phones)
  • I'll share my $0.02 . I bought a Motorola Cliq XT android 3 years ago. I Was promised an upgrade from 1.6 to 2.1 for over 12 months by Motorola themselves. . The upgrade went to beta  and they decided not to upgrade it.
    Well, I ended up with a custom 2.3 ROM  which made it infinitely more usable and stable. (it was unstable from day 1) , and made it into the phone it should have been.. a full 18 months after I bought it.
    As for that Android phone,. I fired it up the other day to find 50 % of the apps I'd purchased are neither supported nor available any longer for 2.3 , including Pay Pal among the big ones.
    It's justy a matter of time before someone over at xda hacks windows phone 8 onto most 7.5 devices. (Already been done on a few phones)
  • if you dont mind me asking what features are you looking for from WP8, I made the job and it pretty much feels like WP7 besides the start screen and the lock screen. The big thing I can think of would be kid zone and skype
  • Completely agree...!!! I was one of the early buyers of Lumia 800 when it arrived. This update is like cold slap for buying this phone.
  • Sad, but ill take it. I was wanting lock screen notifications, but ill live.
  • I was hoping for the same thing
  • Stupid question: does 7.8 get rid of the gutter on the Start screen?
  • Yes. Notice the lack of arrow at the top fo the screen. That's how the "made room" for the new Tile sizes.
  • I told you it was a stupid question. In my defense though, the picture you mention doesn't show in the WP app unless I go to pictures and look for it. Nevertheless, thanks for the reply!
  • the arrow is visible on the end of the main menu.. just a microsoft trick..
     
  • Yes it does, the arrow shows on the bottom now
  • They really need to disable that arrow. My OCD doesn't like that one thing there.
  • ...and that'll be the first indication of a refresh. ;)
  • Nope the new Zune experience is essential for me as well as the array of features including live lock screen, keep-WiFi, and many other useful features. I have not tried it but if the only new features are the resizable title and new color accent, then that long wait on the first place?
  • We've speculated in the past the 7.8 was a very "last minute" decision, meaning it wasn't even coded yet back in June.
  • I thought there were reports of 7.8 for a long long time. Where do you get last minute from?
  • Because it was more than obvious that Microsoft made this update up right before the Summit. No one in the biz knew about it because it didn't exist/wasn't planned. It was to help with the blow-back stemming from the 900 just being launched. Sure the OS has been floating around for the last 2 months, but it takes a lot of coding/testing before a rollout. That and the WP team were focused on WP8.
  • They should've offered wp8 updates to older devices at Microsoft stores... Done by the pros so as to not brick phones. They dropped the ball.
  • The long wait was because they didn't want WP 7.8 to dimish the launch of wp8 devices.
  • Spotted new office 2013 logo in video.
  • Rooms?  Kid's Corner?  Please?
  • Nope, but surely you'll get Share over bluetooth
  • Bluetooth share is afaik a Nokia exclusive and developed by Nokia in-house as an add on app for WP7.8
  • And that doesn't work on the att 900
  • I think rooms will be like if you were on another platform, meaning if a WP8 user adds you then you're in but you won't be able to set one up on your 7.8 phone...my brother added me to his family room. ;)
  • Bummer.. I was hoping they'd slip in a few features like screenshot support, wi-fi keep-alive, and lockscreen support.
  • I think someone said here a few days ago, that in 7.8 you can set custom ringtones for SMS and email?
  • He lied. Not possible.
  • Wonder how many devs will bother updating their apps esp seeing as WP7 devices are basically EOL.
  • Noooo...they're still good. :'(
  • MS needs to clarify thier stance on this. Back in 2010 when WP7 was announced, they said there would be 2 versions of Windows Phone supported at any given time. That may have changed but no one has come out and said so.
    Right now, that makes WP7 and WP8. It's similar to how they work with Windows. Just because a new version is on the street doesn't mean the previous version is EOL.
  • Not really, support will continue for at least 18 months on all devices. More devices are still being released.
  • this. 
     
    while the cosmetic change is nice, and i agree that the new UI will make old phones feel fresh, the kernel changes are going to make it near impossible to reccommend anyone to buy a wp 7.x device (like the 1saleaday deal on the 900) as you are buying into a dead platform. 
    as wp8 gains steam expect all support for wp7.x to stop from the handful of 3rd party developers, including nokia.
     
    i get why the change was necessary, but adding in some kind of emulation layer for basic wp8 apps would have made it a little easier to swallow for people stuck with 7.x devices.
  • Does this update contain a roll up of previous updates and bug fixes?
  • Every WP7.x version rolls to the next so yes. 
  • I just want screenshot support please.
  • +1000 for screenshot support in 7.8. It would've been a very nice feature.
  • I've got screenshot support in my 7.5 TITAN. Then again, I do developer unlock my phones so was able to get a screenshot app sideloaded. Sucks for those that don't have a dev unlocked phone :(
  • So will Zune's "live tile" still show photo of last band to play? Does your avatar still bounce on its tile?
  • I installed the 7.8 version that was on navfirm last year, and yes, Zune will display photo and name of the last artist you played
  • I really really miss that feature in wp8. As soon as you stop playing music, the music tile goes all green and lifeless. A shame, too, since the music live tile, while playing, looks really great.
  • Pretty bare bones... But this is plenty to get me by until contract renewal and second Gen WP8 devices. Flashed my 900 last night and am happy with the minor changes... Having 18 tiles on the screen is nice. :-P
  • I assume that Uverse Mobile app does not truly work, since the version on 7.5 stopped working months ago and they said they were dropping support.  Silly that they kept it in this update.
  • This was supposed to be the "Hero" device. #IMO this feels like we were def part of the "beta testers". Nokia and MS if not any other phone, this should have def been the one to receive something that resembles WP8 in terms of features besides a damn start screen refresh. So much for devices being supported up to 18months.
  • Not that it'll happen but there is suppose to be one more update after 7.8.
  • If this is anything to go by, I wouldn't be surprised if that 'one more update' does nothing more then add some color options.
  • Really...have they stopped supporting devices? I thought Nokia was still banking on 7 ;)
  • No point in upgrading. I like the gutter, and if they haven't even changed Zune to XBox music then its pointless. I like the smoothness of my Titan though so I may still use it from time to time.
  • I like the gutter too; I will upgrade, but how soon is the question.  I just have to decide if I like the gutter more than having the option to use Steel, Olive,Crimson, or Indigo as color choices for my tiles. 
  • you can make the gutter yourself easily by only using medium and small tiles :)
  • Yeah, but the gutter just isn't 'the gutter' without the arrow in the circle :)
  • I liked the gutter as well, but now that I've got the new start screen I wouldn't wanna go back.... So much more functional and I've grown to liking the way it looks compared to the gutter, too.
  • Yeah, I'm concerned the tiles will be too massive without the gutter as everything increases inside by ~30%
  • Not great, but I'll take it!
  • Can we start talking about 7.9 yet?
  • Dude, this is the last update ever...
  • Will I get the 7.8 update for my HTC radar c110e on the 31st im unlocked but on Tesco mobile
  • No one is guaranteed on the 31st... But you will get it in the next 1-3 months
  • Woot woot, now wasn't that worth all the whining. Woot woot. Now you can change tile sizes. It's really not that exciting folks.
  • It's the simple things really... ;)
  • I like the new video intro now and steel is what I'm using on my 8X.
  • So I'm really happy about the update but really? We had to wait seven months for this. I only stayed cause I really love Windows Phone. So whatever, I'm happy.
  • I hope T-Mobile updates the HD 7. I'll take whatever update they give me.
  • Me too for my htc radar!
  • Dianel, I just saw the video and that is the new Office logo. Also, doesn't 7.8 now allow Nokia over the air updates which in theory they have access to modify our phone how they wish (to some extent)? Will OTA updates require carrier approval? Can they bypass carriers?
  • Pretty much confirms what WPCentral has reported on previously with regards to what 7.8 would bring, so no who has been reading this site for the past year should be surprised by what this update brings.
     
    With that said, I have absolutely no regrets of my purchase of new Lumia 900, off contract, in November 2012.  From what I can see, the differences between 7.8 and 8.0 just aren't that significant to me and my day to day usage.  I will however, purchase the new Lumia when it is released in November 2013.
     
    I'm enjoying 7.5, and look forward to using 7.8 :)
  • I totally agree. Here's hoping for a Lumia with 32GB + microSD
  • Starting off with old-size tiles isn't an AT&T thing. When I manually installed the generic 7.8 update it was the same.
  • I updated my L800 to 7.8 some time ago using NaviFirm. What I noticed is that the sound issue that existed in 7.5 version before last Nokia FW update, is back in all its glory in 7.8. Very disappointing. Low volume and almost no bass and treble while playing music. Did anybody noticed yet? Same on L900?
  • If the device doesn't have Tango, will the 7.8 include the bug fixes and improvements from Tango?
  • If u flash it using navifirm then yes, if using zune to update then it will update your device to tango first and then 7.8
  • The official update (don't use navifirm) will include tango and all prior updates
  • Looking forward to getting 7.8 through Rogers. If im not mistaken, I remember a slide being posted here about a post 7.8 update (7.x/7.9) that would eventually follow. Hopefully this is the case so MS can squeeze in additional features (ie. Screenshots, rooms, WiFi stay-alive, etc...) but of all of them, please give the ability to copy/paste cells in Excel. It makes NO sense that I had this feature on 6.5 but not in WP7.x or even WP8. Ridiculous.
  • Sorry, but it's not going to happen
  • How do you know that?
  • Would it really have been that hard to add wifi keep alive? Is the concept so hideously complicated that it really couldn't have been included? The mind boggles.
  • TBH after using WP8 and the new tile system on my L900 I agree with MS on upgrading the start screen as one of the best updates. The tiles now look so lively and Lumia 900 was fast anyways. I have actually started playing with my 900 more than my current 810. Wifi keep alive could have been implemented and lock screen notifications...and WP7.8 would be complete, but not having them doesn't change much. The update is a welcome change!
  • Great No cloud back up no way to back up my game files & move them to my WP8 Device... Thats F**ked up!
  • Guessing they left the titles as the middle size is because if you updated someone's say messaging title to double wide it would screw with the home screen layout you already have. I would expect brand new phones pre loaded with 7.8 to have double wide titles in its image as that's a fresh start, not an update to existing hardware.
  • Good thing im more excited for a start screen then anything else
  • Well you asked for it and you seen it! Now can we stop asking about it whenever Ms mentions anything related to windows phone?
  • Im not sure why people are not happy about this update,a lot of the new stuff wee see are compatible,according to msft..for me my lumia 900 does its jobs for my everyday use,I dont see my self doing something different with wp8.. Im glad Zune is still Zune..im still able to play and drag music from my PC to my lumia unlike Xbox music.. Can't wait to have those small and large tiles..
  • I missed Zune for easy playlist. :-(
  • I hope we get a 7.9 update that adds a few things..
  • Nope, we won't
  • How do you know that?
  • Does anyone know if 7.8 includes the option to edit MMS settings? I know it's a long shot. This is a must for me on Straight Talk.
  • Nope, just Group text on/off and SMS center number
  • On the app list, Maps and People seem to have new icons.
  • If only they had/would add picture multiselect... :(
  • I just flashed my 900 last night. Love the update. Makes a huge difference in experience. Plus with the double wide tiles for messages and emails give previews of messages. Very useful for me. Wish there was a double wide clock app like HTC has.
  • I like the clock on HTC too
  • Daniel mentioned that there was nothing to indicate to the user that they could  adjust the tile sizes, but I'm hoping that when users update and plug into Zune, that the description will listed there.  It would be a shame for people to not realize that this feature comes with the update.
  • I think MSFT just included the basics here in 7.8 as it was something they decided to do late (for whatever reason) and couldn't include everything possible. Now I see no reason why they wouldn't add in rooms, lockscreen notifications, kids corner, WiFi keep alive, and other features of WP8 that the current WP7.x hardware could support. Hopefully MSFT treats their early adopters well and continues to update. I don't think it would keep a lot of people from upgrading, but if they are worried about that and this is the main reason they held features back, maybe they better push on the phone OEMs to produce some more elegant hardware!
  • What incentive would people have to upgrade if MS gave them the majority of the new features for free on older devices?
     
    It might be a bit of a dick move, but it's also just good business sense. 
  • Can't believe people are pissed about this update. MS have been saying since June last year that it's the new start screen. 
     
    Now, I get why non-Nokia users might be pissed, because they really are only getting the start screen and the other minor changes. Those with Nokia devices are also getting bluetooth sharing, ringtone maker and cinemagraph. No, you cannot run WP8 apps, they run on WP8 (oddly enough). However, other than the non-Nokia apps there really is very little functionality that 7.8 users are missing. 
     
    The most important thing for me with the update was that it not have the same effect that updates on other platforms have, i.e. slow the device to a crawl. 7.8 runs flawlessly and really the new home screen would have been enough on its own for me. 
     
    Anyone expecting more than what Microsoft have said repeatedly was in the update ... well I don't really know what to say about that. 
  • Correction: they said new start screen and more! But there is no more so people are annoyed
  • I remember when they where had that one page where we could say what we wanted on 7.8 & they'd look into and se if they could add it & of all the things ppl posted only those couple of things made it to 7.8.
    That's pretty disappointing. I really wanted screenshot but I still want that start screen though.