When Microsoft announced plans to purchase Nokia, my concern was that it would nudge out OEMs. Of course, at this point, Microsoft has one remaining OEM for Windows Phone other than Nokia, HTC, which has a tiny fraction of the Windows Phone business compared to Nokia. Well, there is Huawei, but they aren't selling phones in the U.S.
News out of Australia seemed to indicate that HTC might be on its way out of the Windows Phone business. After all, why else would it cancel the rollout of a Windows Phone 8 upgrade for the HTC 8X?
Microsoft released GDR2 for Windows Phone in July. For its newest phones, the Lumia 925 on T-Mobile and the Lumia 1020 on AT&T, Nokia has already incorporated GDR2. The rest of the phones were to get it via over-the-air updates.
Well, HTC users in Australia got a rude shock when WMPowerUser, a site for WP users and enthusiasts, noted Vodaphone's cancellation of the update with a terse note:
"HTC have advised they won’t be releasing this update. Any future updates will be announced as we hear of them."
WMPowerUser was quick to accuse, saying Vodaphone cancelled the update in a "hissy fit" over the Microsoft/Nokia deal. However, in a very recent blog post, Vodaphone capitulated and said it will go straight to GDR3.
"While the bad news is that you won’t be receiving GDR2, the good news is that you’ll be jumping straight to GDR3…We don’t have any timelines just yet, but you’re already looking in the right place to find out once we do. Keep an eye here each Thursday and as soon as we have more info on GDR3 for your Windows Phone 8X it’ll be here for all to read."
GDR stands for "General Distribution Release," a fancy name for an update. The first GDR came out in December 2012. GDR2 came out in July and the next release is nearing completion now.
Vodaphone users had a right to be mad. GDR2 isn't just a bunch of bug fixes and performance tweaks; it adds a lot to the OS. This includes: an FM radio, which was in WP7 but initially dropped from WP8; support for Data Sense, a feature that compresses every webpage you browse to keep data consumption to a minimum and sniffs out Wi-Fi hotspots; Xbox Music improvements; camera improvements, such as choosing which camera app opens when you press the handset's Camera button; proper Google account support; fixing the "Other" storage bug to free up internal space; support for mailing voicemail as WAV files, and many more features.
In short, this is a big update, almost a point release. GDR3 is more focused on hardware support. It will support 1080p displays and quad-core processors, plus it has some nice upgrades like improved multitasking, settings for auto-rotation and a car mode featuring better voice commands.
So for now, HTC is still in the Windows Phone game. For how long is anyone's guess.