Promising to dole out an update pack in first half of 2014, Microsoft is seemingly working towards gaining more enterprise customers. Previously, Microsoft slated the end of mainstream support for Windows Phone 8 as July 8, 2014 – implying that all the WP8 smartphones being sold currently will be obsolete in about a year’s time. The latest change in the support lifecycle effectively doubles the life of current WP8 smartphones to 36 months.

Robert Hoover, Windows Phone project manager, announced the change through a blog post and noted that Microsoft will be rolling out updates to the mobile platform in an incremental manner and the control of the updates would be left upon the telecom operators.

“In addition to the longer support lifecycle, we will also be releasing an enterprise feature pack as an update to Windows Phone 8”, wrote Hoover.

“This feature pack will provide IT departments with more control over Windows Phones and give their employees a fuller productivity experience”, he added.

Some of the features of the enterprise feature pack are: inclusion of S/MIME for digital signing and encryption of emails, enterprise Wi-Fi support with EAP-TLS authentication, improved MDM policy options, “Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app aware, auto-triggered VPN”, and certificate based user authentication.

The latest change can be considered quite a generous one considering that Google tried to convince vendors to release updates for a period of 18 months back in 2011. Quite a few vendors signed up but, most of the vendors haven’t kept their end of the deal.

Microsoft may be eyeing to increase its market presence given that Android and iOS have a combined presence of over 94.9 per cent in US (May 2013) as compared to Windows Phone 8’s 4.9 per cent. However, the extension of support cycle doesn’t necessarily mean that customers will be tempted to buy WP8 based smartphones.