That source and another software vendor working with Windows Phone smartphones who asked not to be named said Microsoft needs to be more forthcoming with its upgrade plans, since so many third party vendors are dependent on what happens. The source said consumers also need to know whether they can buy a current smartphone that can be fully upgraded to 8.1 in the next few months.
Analysts said that while Nokia had an increase in its third quarter of sales of Lumia devices, the future of Windows Phone is still far from secure in a competitive smartphone market led by Android, with iOS second. Windows Phone has about 3% of market share, ranking third. Given its ranking, Microsoft and Nokia need to be more open with customers about their plans for 8.1, analysts said.
"All this noncommitment is what drives end users crazy," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.
He said Nokia's vague statements, with one correcting the other just two hours apart, indicates that there will likely be an "interim" version of Windows Phone between 8.0 and 8.1. Under that scenario, it is possible that some or all current 8.0 phones won't be upgradeable to the full versions 8.1.
Gold said even some Android devices don't always get upgraded, although new ones purchased in the last one to two years usually do. "Of the majors, only Microsoft seems to be hiding the facts or at least not being straight about them," Gold said. "Users have a right to expect a yes or no answer" as to whether their specific devices are upgradeable. In this case, both Microsoft and Nokia are at fault for not being straight with their customers, which seems like a repeat of the same story we saw the last time Windows Phone had a major upgrade."
Gold urged buyers to beware when buying Windows Phone 8 smartphones and to be satisfied that a discounted price is worth not having the ability to upgrade, if that occurs.
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said two days ago that he "cannot imagine that Windows Phone 8.1 won't work with Windows Phone 8" devices. But then, when Microsoft and Nokia issued their statements on Tuesday and Wednesday he added: "It's like Microsoft to take two steps forward and one step back."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.