Myth Busting Part 2: "Neon" is the next version of Windows Phone

Another rumor we want to squish is that there will be a new version of Windows Phone for "low-end" devices called "Neon".

The information first popped up on TWiT's Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley and Leo Laporte.  On Episode 264 (June 7th) at around 1:47:45, Thurrott brings up some developer documentation pertaining to Windows Phone 8 with four main points:

  • Avoid free for all multitasking, aka Android and Windows Mobile
  • Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo (later mis-reported as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo")
  • Allow Mango apps to support Apollo resolutions
  • Lower end devices support for Neon

The site Insideris then received an "anonymous tip" on the 13th with the same list and they reported that "Neon" may be the next version of Windows Phone for non-Apollo devices. This resulted in numerous emails here at Windows Phone Central and various people contacting us to comment on it.

So true or false?

False. For one, the current code-name schemes for Windows Phone all have the milestones ending in "O": NoDo, Mango, Tango, Apollo, etc. So "Neon" does not fit with that history. Second, Neon here is referring to ARM® NEON™ a "general-purpose SIMD engine" for ARM chipsets. 

Let's head back to MIX 2011. Back then, Microsoft pre-announced support for ARM NEON for Windows Phone Mango (opens in new tab). NEON is basically high-end multimedia support or in technical jargon it can  "...accelerate multimedia and signal processing algorithms such as video encode/decode, 2D/3D graphics, gaming, audio and speech processing, image processing, telephony, and sound synthesis". 

Funny thing though--it never happened (evidently NEON is there, though it is unclear if it works in Tango or early builds of WP8). A smart reading is that Neon support is coming for "low end" devices which is a good thing. That's actually very interesting news. But it is not a code-name for a new version of Windows Phone, sorry.

As a side note, Insideris reported the second point as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo" but if you listen to Thurrott, he says "Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo" and that seems more credible.

To paraphrase Ned Stark: "Brace yourselves, silly season is coming"

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Lol get em Dan
  • Set them straight
  • Daniel,
    I think if you listen carefully to what Paul says, the second bullet point he read out says "Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo", not "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo"
    He said it pretty quickly and it is hard to pinpoint exactly what he's saying, but after listening to it a few times, I'm confident that's what he actually said.
  • Interesting and you may be right...will modify.
  • :)
  • Just slowed the audio down then and listened again and that's exactly what he said: "Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo, Hmmmm Interesting".
    So we'll see.
  • Nice detective work :)
  • Good piece Dan.
  • Paul is fos
  • It's true. He's losing touch with reality more every day... that being said, I do think that Apollo will be available for all devices, even Gen 1.
    There is no reason at all that WinRT couldn't run on the older phones... and they all used basically one SoC, so it should be ridiculously easy to support them.
  • He has been wrong, though rarely.  FOS?  I don't think so...
  • Paul Thurrott is the only blogger, writer, podcast guest who sets the record straight on things Microsoft, so if he misses the mark once every now and then, I'm ok. At least he's not another generic snobby Apple troll like everyone else oit there with a voice.
  • Would love to know what the date is on that document.  The first point about avoiding the "Free For All" Multitasking, kinda leads me to believe it's pretty early.
  • Why?  I take it to mean that they are wanting to expand the multi-tasking abilities of windows phone but want to avoid win mobile and android style, which drastically reduces speed and stability. 
  • Ya its just a rumuor, wait till 20th june :)
  • But why would it say "Allow mango devices to be upgraded" if it;s a doc for developers and NOT carriers? 
    How can they allow?
  • It's probably an INTERNAL document for Microsoft Developers building Windows Phone, not for Developers building apps for Windows Phone.
  • I think it means that if you bought an app for WP7 you should be entitled to a WP8 version when the developer updates the code. Purchases are linked to your MS Account, so even if you are forced to get a new phone, this should be relatively easy to accomplish.
    The sad part is that it suggests that WP8 will not come to today's devices
  • I picked up on what Paul said first time around no problem. But at the end of the day we should just wait and hear from JB or SB on this point ad its the only way we will know fir sure. MS has a history of doing things differently than what official documentation might have said previously.
  • NEON instructions are suported in Mango, e.g. adding vectors in XNA games.
  • smaching rumor bugs with a hammer :D
  • May be it is Neo instead of Neon
  • You have to figure if Leo Laporte is attached to anything it has to be wrong. As an IT specialist, I have seen a so many times where he is so wrong and steers people in the wrong direction. Great job WP Central :-)
  • Myth busted! :P
    But in all seriousness, I believe most of what Paul has to say, for one he always knows (I think he knows) things ahead of time. I mean he wouldn't have mentioned the document and said those bullet points for no reason.