SD storage on Windows 7 phones not upgradeable

If you were thinking of buying one of the recently-announced Windows 7-powered app phones based on its ability to use SD cards as removable storage... you'd better think again.

Trawling through Microsoft's information pages on the eagerly-anticipated, and much delayed, iPhone alternatives, we came across this little gem of information.

For some reason, which we are trying really hard to fathom but just can't get to grips with, Microsoft has elected to add an internal Secure Digital card slot to some WP7 phones, but won't allow you to upgrade the card installed at the time of manufacture.

Apparently, the SD slot contains a custom-made card which is not only impossible to upgrade to a stick with more storage, you won't be able to pass the old car on to another device.

Furthermore, if you do decide to pull the card, it is almost certain to turn your shiny new WP7 handset into a very expensive paperweight.

"You should not remove the SD card in your phone or replace it with a new one because your Windows Phone won't work properly. Existing data on the phone may be lost, and that SD card can't be used in other devices or Windows Phones.

"Windows Phone uses a special high–performance SD card that works differently than SD cards in other devices. When your phone is built and first set up, its internal storage and SD card are combined and recognized as one storage system," says the well-hidden advisory notice.

We're still scratching our heads as to why Microsoft and its mobile-making partners would go down this route. Formatting the SD card and internal Flash memory as a single storage device will cause countless headaches for would-be upgraders, provided the handset manufacturer hasn't added an external SD card slot.

We suspect that this is an easier way of creating market and product segmentation by severely limiting one handset's upgradeability, keeping costs low. If you look at HTC's product offer right now, you'll notice its handsets have different capacities for European and Asian markets, but overall, shy away from adding the much-needed external SD card slot.

Either that or the Windows Phone 7 operating system turned out to be fatter than expected, and the SD slot was pressed into duty to make up the shortfall. The company does have a well-deserved reputation for bloatware, after all.

We have no doubt that some clever soul will come up with a software tool which will fool a bog-standard SD card into thinking it has all the right credentials, but until Microsoft or one of its manufacturing partners comes up with a viable reason why a user accessible memory card slot is anything but user accessible... we're calling egg on face.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.