Microsoft increases Windows Phone 8 support lifecycle, teases upcoming enterprise update

Microsoft today announced an increase in the length of the company's support lifecycle for Windows Phone 8, from 18 months to 36 months. Beginning with Windows Phone 8, Microsoft notes in an official blog post that updates, including security updates will be available for 36 months. Each update will (as we already know) incremental, with each release building on the preceding one. While the company will have the update available, the mobile operator and / or mobile phone manufacturer may control the distribution of updates.

In addition to the extended support lifecycle, Microsoft will also be releasing an enterprise feature pack as an update for Windows Phone 8. This will provide IT departments with more control over Windows Phones and improve the overall experience for employees. From enhanced MDM policies to certification management, the enterprise pack will contain the following:

  • S/MIME to sign and encrypt email
  • Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app aware, auto-triggered VPN
  • Enterprise Wi-Fi support with EAP-TLS
  • Enhanced MDM policies to lock down functionality on the phone for more enterprise control, in addition to richer application management such as allowing or denying installation of certain apps
  • Certificate management to enroll, update, and revoke certificates for user authentication

So when can you expect to see the feature pack made available? The first half of 2014. If you were questioning Microsoft's support for Windows Phone, you've just been served an incredible chicken feast to enjoy. While the Windows Phone Store sports the likes of Lync, Skype and other communication apps, improved business support and tools for enterprise have been requested since Windows Phone first launched and it's pleasing to see Redmond attempt to attract enterprise customers, as well as consumers. 

This plan is likely to be part of a wider goal to offer Windows to business - both the employee workstation and smartphone. Here's to more success stories like what we've witnessed before with Nokia.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Carrier control of updates? I thought OS updates were going to be OTA.
  • I never unerstood that either. What on earth does the carrier have to do with the software you're running on your device?
  • You are running your device on their network after all. Although they have a little too much control
  • Does your internet provider at home also tell you when you're allowed to download Windows updates? I'm still an iOS user, it just sounds extremely weird to me. It's like a road trying to control when you get your gasoline.
  • Agreed. ISPs and Telcos provide PLUMBING!
    What firmware I have on my broadband router and my phone IS MY F//////// BUSINESS, not theirs. As long as I don't mess with their network, I can have what kit/software I chose.
    The real reason Carriers want to get involved in code, is to stick HORRIBLE BRANDING on phones, and ADVERTS and re-drects to their services.     GET OFF MY PHONE CARRIERS, stick to building Cell Towers..
    I feel better now, thanks :)
  • +11
  • Here here!
  • They are the ones who provide technical support, so they clearly have an interest that the phones be as bug-free as possible.  Would you let Microsoft (or BlackBerry, or whoever) just push out whatever they wanted and say "oh if you have any problems call AT&T".
  • What kind of technical support we are talking about?
    The avalanche of generic responses from customer support employee that often insult your intelligence? (Is your phone plugged to usb? etc.)
    Or technical support when something's broken? Not sure how it's at your place buddy, but here they send it straight to the manufacturers service.
    So in short, it's not their bloody buisness what os you have on phone running, and they should not be allowed to block updates (which they do, because its additional $ for them (or so they think). Because why would they support phone's updates if its better for them if someone buys a new phone with newer os instead).
  • They are OTA...
  • Not carrier controlled to the point of not releasing updates or delaying for months, because they can. Re.....WP7 updates on ATT.
  • Why is it only Apple can ditch this and android, WP, and blackberry need carrier rollout?
  • Apple strong armed them into it. It was the biggest spectre of corporate bullying there has ever been. And now the carriers are over a barrel with apple, and they damn sure wont let it happen again. So yeah, that's why.
  • Is this the same group of users from WP7 that blasted the carriers for holding back NODO? We will see how many of you defend the carriers when 8.1 or any update is held up by the carriers for months.
  • Kellzea didn't mention supporting the actions, they were just explained. It's simply a statement of why it is how it is, not that it's a good thing.
  • I've always said:
    Firware updates should come from the Manufacturer (Nokia, HTC, Samsung, etc)
    O/S updates should come from the Creators (Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc.)
    Bloat/Crapware should come from the Carrier (T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon, etc.)
    That's how it works in the PC world, and that's how it should be in the Mobile world.
  • That's what I'm talking about! Microsoft has a great OS on its hands & they need to keep pushing to ensure its relevance
  • A little late, nearly a year for decent Enterprise support.
  • And they talked about this 2 years ago. Still a snails pace getting this OS on par with ios and Android..
  • Hence why they extended the lifecycle of updates, this is Microsoft basically admitting that they are slow.
  • Really? What is so great about IOS and Android for enterprise customers? They both provide management capabilities pretty much strictly though Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), which Microsoft invented by the way.
  • MS only does snails pace.
  • When Microsoft announced the 18 month support timeframe earlier this year, I received an early morning text message from a friend whom I've been engaging in a smartphone war/debate. He proclaimed the end of Windows Phone and Android the victor. He lost a bullet point today.
  • He didn't have a point then. What Android release gets fixes for 18 months? When the next update for WP goes out (8.1?) the clock resets and you get another 18 months. This was a disaster the way it was reported that ms would stop supporting your device. That was never true... they only stop supporting that specific release of the os. Microsoft's clumsy wording didn't help, and neither did WPCentral's unclear news item in it at the time.
  • Not to mention, all Windows Phone 8 devices will be updated to WP9. It's like when Google ended Android 4.0 support. That doesn't mean that Android has ceased development. It's just been superseded by Android 4.2. Actually, us Windows Phone users are better off than those on 4.0, since we get updates and they do not ;)
  • I am afraid these upgrades will be billable ...
  • This is another thing that confuses me. Where do people get the idea that you will have to buy WP9?
  • The same reason why we'll have to buy W8.2 and W9. MS sells operating systems. That is their business. They have to sell new OSes to live.
    It is like expecting Google to offer Youtube/Gmail without advertisements (ads are their business).
    Or Apple to offer iSomething without accessories (devices are their business)
  • Except that Microsoft is on a clear transformation into being a services company, where subscriptions are much more lucrative than charging for updates that may or may not sell well. The difference between Windows and Windows Phone is that people don't keep their phones long enough. If they are deciding between a software update or a new phone, they are more likely to get a new phone. Phones are commodities now that you can get them free on contract. Besides, there is no precident for charging for a phone update. Ask anyone you like if they would buy it and they'd say no, considering the competitors give them for free. Talk about burning your customers. It's more offensive than not giving an update at all. Desktops and laptops however have a much longer lifecycle and therefore you can choose to buy a new OS or just wait it out until your next hardware upgrade.
  • Fair enough!
    However I still think they are going to charge us somehow. Forcing us to upgrade (incompatible) hardware is still a way to charge :)
  • You pay almost the full price of the phone through the contract. Think of it as your monthly bill be an installment.
  • Of course. But it doesn't feel like it, hence it feels free/cheap, hence you wouldn't pay for a software update. Microsoft is unlikely to do it if competitors aren't.
  • What do you mean about the word 'billable'? These updates are all free, just like other OSes.
  • It was assumed that all WP7 devices would be updated to WP8. What will probably happen is existing WP8 phones will continue receiving updates (8.1, 8.2, etc) until 9, and you'll be forced to get another handset. I ESPECIALLY foresee this since the carriers are controlling rolling out updates.
  • They're not going to switch kernels AGAIN....
  • Except WP8 was a whole different kernel than WP7.
  • That's what I said -_-
  • Except that there will always be a support break, just like with Apple. Microsoft have to at some point draw a line in the sand to mitigate code bloat and remain agile and innovative.
  • This actually a nice thing about them being in 3rd place (by a lot). Compare this attitude to that of the Xbox One. I feel they are trying to earn my business here, whereas with the One, they are like here, take this and if you don't like it, then keep your 360.
  • You know Don Mattrick left and reversed all policies, right?
  • Perhaps that was your assumption, but it definitely wasn't everyone's (or even the majority of the people's).
    WP8 was essentially a new operating system that was coded to look and work a lot like the old one.  This was done to give it better comptibility with code from Windows, and for scalability.  People don't understand that the internals of it are pretty much complety different.  They will most definitely NOT be doing that again any time soon.  What it cost them was having very few featuires that jumped out to users as "new"... they pretty much spent all their time recreating what they already had in a more robust and scalable codebase.
  • Wow thats good 36 months :) just hope carriers dont start blocking a lot of them
  • good news today :)
  • What's VPN anyways?
  • There is this great thing called google :P
  • We don't use that round here! Bing is more accurate in my uses and less cluteres.
  • Not sure about that.. I really do try to give Bing a shot, but googles results for most things I search for are far better
  • Really? To each their own I suppose. That's why there is competition.
  • Exactly. For a lot of my scientific inquiries I tend to use google and it just works better for these searches. But when on my phone I do use Bing when I can, until im fed up and go back to google. :P
  • I don't know. I binged VPN and definition appeared on the right top corner with a link to the same wikipedia article you linked. In the US, I think the results are usually about the same. I know international users have complained that bing wasn't as good in their countries.
  • I'm afraid I feel the same way... And I really try not to:)
  • out of curiosity what are you searching for mainly? Bing is my default engine at work where i am binging the most arcane Perl errors and linux errors and always get what i am looking for in the 1-2 page of results.
  • Pretty much anything I search for. Produtcs, windows phone & windows 8 development stuff. There was 1 error I searched for and bing had 0 results. Google brought back thousands of results, with the answer being the first site.
    I find anything more technical when I use it, bing doesn't like me, although it has gotten a little better over time. Not sure what it is, if it doesn't index as many sites or if it can't handle pulling keywords from your search phrase to improve results
  • Also, it depends on the country you're in. I've heard Bing in the US kicks arse, but Bing here in the Netherlands? Not by a long shot. Here, Google's search results are way better. Microsoft should really step it up with their services (not to mention commercials!) here in the Netherlands. 90% of the people here don't even know what a "Surface" is. When I pop my Surface RT out in the open, all eyes are on me. Dutchies be like deemnnn what is that for a cool tablet you're having there? XD
  • Plus 928!!! No scroogling WPC forums..... Thank you very much.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) is basically an encrypted connection that is as secure as the server it is connected to, basically redirecting internet traffic to that server so for example if you are in a public hotspot you would use a VPN to have a secure connection and not have anyone snooping at what you are doing & if you buy a VPN for lets say the USA you can go on websites that are only available in the USA like Hulu, Pandora etc...that's what I use it for anyways because I live in the UK & it takes like a year to get American TV shows lol.
    Enterprises use VPN for e-mail if they have an internal e-mail system that is not accessible on the internet so VPN would connect into the company's intranet so you can securely send & receive e-mail.
  • Good job MS for leaving your first adopters behind.
  • Its no different to any other platform really.. Look at android..
  • I am talking about app wise here. My brothers old Android phone with gingerbread can still run most of the apps in the market store.
  • Why do you even troll here, no one listens...
  • I am not trolling. I am a proud Windows Phone user. Just annoyed  Windows Phone 7 is getting left behind only after 2 years. All that marketing and challenges for nothing, now everyone has to move to Windows Phone 8.
  • Eh?
  • MS doesn't need you to purchase their product three years ago and then just sit on it and cry as they work feverishly to compete in the rapidly changing mobile market. They need you to jump aboard and ride the wave with them. Come along -- it's more fun than sitting around and complaining every time MS does something cool/revolutionary!
  • 1) They don't seem to be working very feverishly. As per MS, they work hard to leapfrog the latest stuff, then sit on their hands hoping no-one else innovates.
    2) Don't be a sheep. If they need you to do something they should be paying you. They sell a product and aren't delivering that much at the moment.
    Speaking as a long-term Windows on my phone user: XDA Orbit, Touch Diamond, HTC Trophy and now HTC 8X. The moment we start thinking the way you're talking we become as bad as the iUsers.
  • That's the risk if being an early adaptor
  • Anyone else kind of tired of hearing about "future" Microsoft updates?  I'd love to hear an announcement from Microsoft about major updates along with "available today!".
  • Yeah I would like to see actual updates. I reckon I've read a couple dozen update articles here now and still haven't seen an update. They don't come around often enough
  • People always say this, but then freak out when they don't hear news for a while or know what's coming. Would you seriously rather they just say nothing and you have no idea if these features are coming until June 2014? I want to know they are working on these things. Complaints like this are why MS thinks "shut up and ship" is a good idea. It's not.
  • Announcing an update and saying you can have it in 12 months isn't such a great idea either?
  • I can understand that point of view to a degree... but another thing to keep in mind is that this is an enterprise feature pack.  Enterprises plan ahead, and the confiration that WP is getting VPN and these other advanced needs for enterprise will allow them to "pencil in" to use WP in their future budgets. 
    Personally, I am always happy to know what's coming, even if it is a year out.  It feels like such a vacuum when MS won't even comment if they are working on something.  Makes it look like they are working on nothing, which is much worse imo.
  • +928
  • +920
  • I really don't see how this is good news? Especially if this is purely for Windows phone 8.0 and not subsequent 8.X releases. All this means is that the release date for the next version of the operating system is delayed, or that some phones will not be able to be upgraded to the next version, and be stuck at WP8. Think about it, why would microsoft extend the lifecycle past 18 months, if they didn't think that that any phones would still be on WP8 at that time. Which means that by microsoft's account, some phones in 18 months will still be on WP8, hence the need to extend the lifecycle.
    However, if its for WP8.X etc, then it is good news, as 18 months from the release of WP8, I'd hope we'd be up to 8.1 at least by then. If it resets at 8.1, then why extend WP8 for another 18 months, if all phones would upgrade to 8.1 by then.
  • Given the changes made in wp8, I would expect all handsets would now upgrade to 8.1 and so on. Shouldn't be ant different to windows on your PC now
  • Exactly. They got the infrastructure change done specifically for this purpose from 7.5 to 8
  • So 8.1 will be coming 18 months after 8.0, and then delayed further by carriers? :(. Don't see any other reason for the extension of support for 8.0.
  • Except we aren't going to pay $199 for Windows Phone 8 Professional ;)
  • You are waaay over thinking this. The updates will be available for whatever is current at the time.
  • You realize that the equivalent end of support for WinXP is April 8, 2014, right? This is for enterprise planning. Enterprises will buy a couple thousand devices and want them to all be the same operating environment. This means keeping people on Win XP, or Win 7, or WP8 despite MSFT moving sales more generally to Win 8.1 or WP8.1. So if you have a couple thousand Lumia 920s kicking around with company apps that haven't been tested for WP8.1, you can keep them at WP8 and still get support for three years.
  • Thank you for explaining, I hadn't thought about that :)
  • Wtf ota updates no carrier controlling !!!!
  • OTA =/= No carrier control.
  • Can anyone tell me is it possible I won't even get the gdr2 release because of Vodafone Ireland? I still haven't got the 1308 update.
  • Let's hope there will be Juniper / Cisco VPN support ... large enterprises do NOT use the standard windows vpn anyway.
  • I wonder why Juniper / Cisco had to go vendor proprietary with their VPN solutions in the first place.  PPTP, L2TP and IPSec are industry standards, not just windows standards.
  • Well, VPNs nowadays are not only secure connection to workplaces, they are anti-virus/anti-malware/disk-encryption software. And for those that are not, there are measures (from VPN client) to enforce up-to-date antivirus and memory scans.
    That is why enterprises prefer those proprietary solutions instead of the standards.
  • Continued lack of VPN support is astounding given the natural fit for WP in the enterprise environment.
  • Do you mean in the update or just currently?
  • Since WP7. The natural thing for MSFT to do would have been attack BlackBerry, taking until WP8.1 (which this sounds like it's linked to) is unfathomable for something as basic for enterprise adoption as VPN support.
  • I would rather they fix the storage issue first
  • Your so silly. This is windows phone, we don't get fixes, just a painted picture of a bright future. Lol jk I'd imagine the fix will be in gdr3, if its not MS will probably have to deal with a huge backlash.
  • Does this include the Lumia 810?
    Does anyhting?
  • No. They are going to pretend the 810 never existed.
  • First half 2014?? No, please tell me I haven't read that! This whole platform is getting on my nervers by Microsoft's non-sense update cycle. I think I'm going back to Apple as soon as I can.
  • I'm not satisfied until I get an update :/
  • WOW. Only Apple can match that right now.
  • I think the editors should start naming all the articles about the OS udates, "Things Lumia 810 users will never see."
  • the Enterprise Feature Pack will be completely useless unless it allows for encryption of SD cards.  That is the only reason my company will not allow Windows Phones yet.
  • Guys, they increased the length they support each version BECAUSE IT TAKES THEM FUCKING FOREVER TO RELEASE A NEW VERSION!
  • S/MIME and VPN support are huge. I sign and/or encrypt all of my email using S/MIME (and with the NSA spying on everyone, you should too.)
  • All I hear is "it takes so long for us to get out updates and get things right, that we have increase the expected life cycle".
  • A lot of people commenting about news made firmly to get enterprises attention as if end users were looking for the same things businesses were looking for. Make an enterprise purchase decision and you'll see why this is a big deal. Android life cycle management is abysmal, and the only other player is Apple with their decent support cycle. Two cents, this doesn't imply anything about updates in general, just that Microsoft will support their products, like they have for the last 20+ years (hi WebTV!)
  • Ha. So My lumia 920 will get windows phone 9 upgrades or not? scared it will be a nightmare like wp7, after wp8 released, there's no love for wp7, all popular apps in wp8!!!
    #sorry english
  • Great news, extend the life cycle updates is good decision, no all people always have money to upgrade their Windows Phone. Using loow budget Windows Phone like Lumia 520 is good. Thank you for your information.
  • Finally! Enterprise setup, install, and config should've been included from the get-go! Now we have a phone that will be set for the big wigs...and it's only going to get better. Go MS!!
  • MS listen very carefully!
    3: ITS FAR BEHIND WITH FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES (iOS 7 will make iPhones even more attractive to customers this September) COMPARED WITH APPLE/ANDROID PHONES - FACT
  • Wow, I just feel bad for Nokia. I love my 920 but the lack of features in WP8 is really killing it for me. VPN, static IP, Bluetooth HID, notification center, customisable sounds and separate volume controls to name a few. All of this should have been in WP8 from release. My phone will be obsolete by the time VPN is added. WP is never going to catch up to the other platforms at this pace.
  • Look around and see how people are getting fed-up with W8phones - esp when coming from Android and Apple background. As with me I know how behind W8 phones are; even Maps wgich pratically have no rplaces reviews or even photos, no realtime alternative routes, voice to navigation - fasley advertised by MS/Nokia, many small shops businesses missing on maps, intergrated Streetview or 3D mapping...etc! I'm just mentioning maps here, but everywhere W8 is BEHIND! ...What MS don't realize its the word of mouth, esp from people whoc came to W8 after using phones like SG3, iPhones 4s, Sony Xperia..etc; that tell other and talk the few good things, but the many bad things about W8 phones - go to any phone shop and hardly anyone recommends W8P's ! ...I certainly belive MS are to blame for there very slow and un-commited response, yet we still wait!