Microsoft to introduce flexible specs for cheaper devices? [Rumor]

According to reports over at WinRumors, Microsoft may be planning to announce a more flexible hardware specification allowance for manufacturers of Windows Phone 7 at MIX11. 

"According to sources familiar with the company’s plans, the new hardware specifications will allow device manufacturers such as Nokia to create cheaper Windows Phone devices. The announcement may be made as early as the company’s MIX11 conference this week. The new flexibility will offer device makers the option to use cheaper components to bring the overall cost of a Windows Phone down. Microsoft is understood to be open to flexible specifications in order to gain smartphone market share and eat into Google’s Android efforts."

We also received this info from @WindosPhone8 (opens in new tab) (still rumour guys!): "New flexible spec #Wp7 chasis requires no wi fi, bluetooth, 3g, camera, fm, compass, gyro. Must have wvga 3.5"+, gps, accelerometer, 2g+"

While this would tie in nicely with Nokia bringing devices to the platform and would certainly appeal to many with a really tight budget, I don't see this happening simply because there are already fairly cheap options already on the platform - namely the HTC 7 Trophy which is available at Amazon (opens in new tab) (UK) for £299.99 (just under $500US), not to mention previous deals on the Samsung Focus (opens in new tab). As well as that, lower-end hardware would introduce concerns from users that the devices may not be able to run the software (and applications) smoothly to ensure a user experience found on top-end models.

With the current line of WP7 devices packing a single-core processor, I'm not entirely sure how low we could go before performance begins to become an issue, especially with multitasking coming around the corner later this year in Mango (opens in new tab). Microsoft themselves stated numerous times they're in the smartphone race for the long run, why would they begin to go back on the WP7 foundations that features strict platform hardware requirements? WP7 would also run the risk of mild fragmentation, something that made many of us leave Android.

Let's see if anything is announced at MIX this week, what do you think about the rumor? Do you think it's nonsense and Microsoft will stick to the fantastic strict specification requirements, or do you believe they're starting to get impatient about marketshare?

Source: WinRumors

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.

  • I really wish this wont happen, Microsoft has has a good system working here. Dont let it be another android.
  • By the time Nokia has any WP7 phones ready, a 1ghz processor will be at the bottom. (well even more at the bottom)
  • Shouldn't happen, but I'm fairly certain that it will. Nokia's target audience is not smartphones, but feature phones. This will be done to appease Nokia. Maybe these phones will only be feature phones and not support 3rd party apps?
  • I hope not. I do not want fragmentation as it will effect all of us. I believe at current, all wp7 phones should last their 22 months and be eligible for all updates. Last thing we want is some phones on wp7 and some on wp8. It would drive devs insane as it has on webos and android. Phones should be designed to last 2 years at good performance and be suitable for upgrades within that time.
  • Looks like MS has decided the best way to go after android is to target the low and mid end. Fork the OS and fragment.
  • I wouldn't call WP Lite fragmentation. A phone that was made for this specific OS would never expect to be updated to WP Premium. Unlike Android 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. where there is an expectation for an update. Could have the same UI, maybe a slightly smaller processor, smaller (3.5") screen, 8GB memory or less, no sliding/tilting anything, simple camera, BT & WiFi, and less expensive shell/trim. But most importantly, no required data plan. Just like Zune vs. WP7 today, Marketplace can be filtered to provide selected apps for this Lite OS. Offer this phone everyday for $199 off contract and Free with contract, and you attract a new demographic.
  • thats fragmentation no matter how you try to explain it.
  • Don't do it, MSFT!!! Don't do it. You have the current standards for a reason. Remember that.