RIP Windows Phone: Microsoft finally rings the death knell for its failing mobile OS
Windows Phones are dead. Kaput. Finito. Over. RIP Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, we hardly knew ye.
We already knew that Windows Phone 8.1 was over, but over the weekend Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore openly admitted it was drawing a line through Windows 10 Mobile.
Not only is the Redmond-based company no longer developing new features for the failed OS, it’s also not going to be releasing any pieces of new Windows 10 Mobile hardware – something that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to Microsoft’s post-Nokia handsets.
In a series of tweets, Belfiore reassured platform fans that the team would definitely still support Windows 10 Mobile with bug fixes and security updates. However, it’s no longer considered a primary focus.
Windows 10 Mobile certainly had its fans, but it appears the platform died because of the lack of interest from developers themselves. “We have tried VERY HARD to invent app devs,” Belfiore explains in a follow-up tweet, “but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest.”
With this move, Microsoft isn’t withdrawing from the mobile business entirely. The company is still going to support Windows 10 customers who use the services on Android and iOS, it’s a play to put software first across the devices people are already using – instead of convincing them to shift to a new platform entirely.
Despite Windows having a huge install base of users, it’s clear that Microsoft came too late to the mobile world. By supporting the platforms that many others already use, Microsoft can make the experience of transitioning between PC and mobile – regardless of platform – straightforward. The new Microsoft Launcher for Android only exemplifies how small tweaks can improve cross-compatibility between the two devices.
Last summer, Microsoft cut thousands of jobs from its mobile division, and the last phone it produced in-house was 2015’s Lumia XL. Plus AdDuplex estimates that as of last month, just 20.3% of Windows Phone devices were running Windows 10, with 73.9% still on Windows Phone 8.1.
Plus, it’s not like the signs for Windows 10 Mobile have been particularly rosy either. While desktop Windows 10 got a major facelift with the Creators Update, the mobile version barely got a look in and, as The Verge notes, nothing from the Fall Creators Update has found its way into testing on mobile. It seems increasingly likely that Windows 10 Mobile is simply going through the motions until its scheduled retirement next October.
It’s been pretty obvious for a while that smartphone domination was turning into a two-horse race – it’s just that a decade ago, you’d have thought that at least one of those horses would have Microsoft, BlackBerry, Nokia or Palm branding.
So, as the death knell rings out for Windows 10 Mobile, maybe long-term fans of the platform will finally realise they’re sitting on the wrong side of technological history.