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Windows Phone 7.8 arrival imminent

Microsoft will release Windows Phone 7.8 at some point this week - possibly today - according to "a little rumour" passed along by WMPowerUser and spotted by Mashable.

The Microsoft-centric blog cited an anonymous tip pointing to 28 November as the arrival date of the software update for smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 900. WMPowerUser said it wasn't able to verify the tip but noted that Microsoft and Nokia have been teasing the release of Windows Phone 7.8 for several months.

Microsoft released its next-generation handset operating system, Windows Phone 8, to great fanfare in late October. The new OS is the first handset platform from Microsoft that shares basic building blocks with the software giant's iconic PC operating system, Windows — the upshot being that WP8 and the new Windows 8 and closely-related Windows RT for PC, tablet, and hybrid devices have more common features than ever, starting with the signature Windows 8 live-tile interface.

But Microsoft's decision to use the same Windows kernel across its next-gen handset and PC operating systems also means owners of older Windows Phones, most notably Nokia's recent batch of Lumia-branded devices, haven't been able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 from Windows Phone 7 and older generations of the OS they've been running.

Back in June, when Microsoft offered its first official glimpse at Windows Phone 8, the company and its close partner Nokia also promised that there would be an updated version of WP7 sporting certain WP8 features like the start screen which would serve as a kind of consolation prize for Windows Phone 7 users.

The WP7 update rumoured for release this week will bring the new start screen to older Windows Phones plus "new accent colours, Bing lock screen wallpaper, and on Nokia handsets, SMS drafts and the ability to keep Wi-Fi active when the device is suspended," WMPowerUser reported.

The site also tipped "the ability to send files via Bluetooth File Transfer" via the software update, which Microsoft has not officially confirmed is arriving imminently.