The traditional Windows operating system has a mainstream support lifespan of at least five years. During that time, Microsoft will continue to update the OS with security and stability updates. It seems that Microsoft will be bucking that trend with its mobile OS.
Microsoft unveiled its support timeline for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 recently, and both operating systems will have their mainstream support ending sooner rather than later. In fact, both will stop receiving support next year with Windows Phone 8's support running out July 8, 2014; and Windows Phone 7.8's support running out on September 9, 2014.
This short support lifespan pretty much confirms that Microsoft plans to take Windows Phone into an annual release cycle. A job posting from earlier this month suggested as much, and there's the persistent rumor of Windows Blue. The latter could prove interesting if it cuts support for desktop Windows earlier than usual. Windows 8 should be in no danger of that for the time being, though, as its mainstream support ends in 2018.
Some consumers may be a bit sore over Microsoft ending support for Windows Phone 8 so quickly, but the company is just following the lead of its competitors. It's rare to see any manufacturer support a mobile operating system more than two years after its launch.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft updates Windows Phone 8 devices to the latest Windows Phone operating system, or if it will require consumers with older phones to upgrade to hardware. We can only hope for the former, but don't be surprised if Microsoft pushes for the latter.[h/t: Engadget]