This means that anyone buying a Windows Phone for the rest of 2013 will have the handset supported throughout the standard two year contract - and if Microsoft count GDR2 as a 'new' entry in Windows Phone (as Windows Phone 8.1) then the three year clock starts again.
But this support life-cycle is aimed more at the Enterprise market and getting Windows Phone established in corporate IT departments around the world. Putting aside the 'bring your own device' trend, rolling out a 'business' phone requires a lot more confidence and security in a device.
Many IT departments are reluctant to look at Android, and while Apple have made strides in this area it's still one that is open for Microsoft to engage with a positive approach. For a long time Blackberry was the go to handset, and the new BB10 powered devices have their benefits and drawbacks, and the time is right for Windows Phone to 'get in there'.
Hence the extended support cycle to fit corporate budgets and planning, and a reminder from Microsoft VP Tony Mestres on what WP can do:
- S/MIME to sign and encrypt email
- Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app aware, auto-triggered VPN
- Enterprise Wi-Fi support with EAP-TLS
- Enhanced MDM policies to lock down functionality on the phone for more enterprise control, in addition to richer application management such as allowing or denying installation of certain apps
- Certificate management to enroll, update, and revoke certificates for user authentication
The full blog post and announcement can be found here.