Windows Phone 9 looms large as Microsoft pegs WP8 end date for July 2014
Consumers likely to be offered upgrades
The news, detailed via support document on its website, comes a few weeks after the giant confirmed consumers with Windows Phone 8 devices will be offered "an upgrade path" to the new OS when it launches.
That's a break from what happened with the original OS Windows Phone 7 where consumers were unable to upgrade their devices to its successor, instead being offered an update to Windows Phone 7.8.
It's a date
The document also details plans for Windows Phone 7.8, with support for the OS running through until September 2014.
Of note: Dropping support doesn't mean the phones or indeed the apps running either versions of Windows Phone will stop working, but rather Microsoft will stop rolling out updates for the two platforms.
Nevertheless, the decision to make Windows Phone's road map public is likely to raise eyebrows and win praise in equal measure.
Open and honest
On the one hand, putting a date on ending support for Windows Phone 8 is likely to leave existing and potential consumers nervy until its inevitable successor is announced.
Indeed, on that note, Microsoft's senior marketing manager Greg Sullivan has already revealed to PC Mag that the new version of Windows Phone won't be unveiled "months and months" before it is available, as was the case with WP8.
The Microsoft document
On the other hand, the fact Microsoft is being so open about support for existing versions of Windows Phone makes a refreshing change.
In contrast, Apple gives very little warning when a version of iOS is about to be dropped the unveiling of new iPhone or iPad hardware usually signalling its demise.
There's been no word on when Windows Phone 9 will make its debut, though the Microsoft document points to an 18 month cycle for versions of the platform, meaning the new OS could hit handsets at some point in the first half of 2014.