Microsoft has confirmed that the Windows Phone 7.8 operating system upgrade for handsets that launched earlier this year will be available from early 2013.

Rumours have abounded in recent weeks that the update was imminent for devices such as the Lumia 800 or HTC Mozart, but in a blog post the corporate vice president of Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, confirmed it will be early next year before it is available.

"We know you're eager to get the Windows Phone 7.8 update, and we want you to know that we're working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013," he said.

The update will offer several different capabilities available to Windows Phone 8 users too, including the capability to re-size the live tile screens on the device.

"Windows Phone 7.8 also includes some other cool stuff. It doubles the number of theme and accent colours - to 20 - so you can make your phone even more personal," he said.

"There are also new lock screen features: the option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day plus the ĎA1B2C3' PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes on phones connected to Exchange accounts."