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Although there was some hope that Windows Phone 7.5 users were to see the Windows Phone 7.8 update released this week, Microsoft has announced that it is arriving in early 2013, along with some new 7.8 apps and even some new 7.8-powered handsets!

Aside from announcing 40 million OEM and upgrade license sales of Windows 8, and saying that sales of Windows Phones have quadrupled since the launch of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has also released some news for Windows Phone 7.5 owners waiting for an OS upgrade.

The news is that the Windows Phone 7.8 update is coming “in early 2013”, dashing rumoured hopes the update might appear this week as earlier reported.

The most visible change of the 7.8 update is the ability, borrowed from Windows Phone 8, to further re-size the live tiles, letting you put ever more apps, information and shortcuts under your fingertips, but also to better customise your home screen.

Microsoft’s VP for Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, said in a blog posting that explains the benefits of faster access to “more of my favourite people, photos and apps”, “doubles the number of themes and accent colours”, “new lock screen and security features” and even new apps on the way – apps which aren’t just for 7.8 users, but 7.5 users too.

These include “Words with Friends and Draw Something” which “are already available”, with “Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars” on the list of apps to come.

Microsoft is even releasing new low-cost Windows Phones running 7.8 to “bring more Windows Phones to more people” – the modern day equivalent of the feature phone compared to the true smart phone, even though a 7.8 phone is likely far smarter than any feature phone ever was.

So, this week’s rumour of an arrival was really the arrival of an announcement, but as least there’s now some new visibility for 7.5 users on their next major OS update – an OS that is clearly set to live on for at least some time yet thanks to the added surprise than new handsets loaded with 7.8 are coming despite otherwise leading into the future with Windows Phone 8.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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