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On the Fence: A fragmented future with Windows Phone

I’m definitely not done making decisions, especially with how awesome and free the Samsung Captivate is probably going to be when I’m ready for my upgrade.  However, in the spirit of this whole me-sharing-my-upgrade-experience thing I wanted to let you in on some of my internal thought process about the long term development of mobile operating systems.  While reading a comment about fragmentation of the Android OS it suddenly dawned on me.  Fragmentation to some extent can’t not happen.  No matter how awesome your new shiny cell phone is it always gets old and looks like poop after a year or so.  Most of us upgrade every two years but many don’t and this is what I’m concerned with.  How long will first generation hardware be able to run current OS versions?  For the iPhone it took about 2.5-3 years for them to stop supporting it.  If you want to count the HTC G1 as an Android starting point then they got left at version 1.6  which was about a year and a half after the phone was released (although Android is bad ass in that they don’t care about you hacking the shit out of your phones and you can put 2.2 on there.) Thinking about Windows Mobile’s legacy support issues and their anti-fragmentation approach to Windows Phone 7 with tight hardware spec’s I realize that unless Microsoft can make some magically upgradable hardware in phones they will eventually have to stop supporting hardware.  How long will it take before Microsoft makes that distinction?  When this happens will we be able to get the updates unofficially?  I know this may seem like too much long term thinking but not everyone gets the newest phone that is out all the time.  When I got my Fuze it was already about a year and a half old (swapped out for the lameness that was the Samsung Epix.)  This is something that matters to me long term because regardless of your choice of device once you start purchasing apps you’re invested in the platform.  Microsoft decided to set me back to square one after at least 100.00$ of applications on Windows Mobile but I don’t want to jump into a sinking ship and shell out all my money again.  Microsoft needs to make sure their upgrade patterns are clear and they’re developing software in such a way that phones can stay current for at least 3 years.  You don’t see a lot of OG iPhones rolling around anymore and supporting 4 hardware models with at least two capacities a piece is a big task.  These aren’t questions I’ve seen asked because no one really knows as far as I’m aware.  Development road maps are one thing but when stuff actually happens is a totally different story.  What do you all think?  How long will it take Microsoft to cut the release model turds loose as new hardware and software updates occur?