Microsoft Lays The Windows Phone To Rest

Microsoft have all but confirmed it, the Windows Phone dream is dead. They have now refocused their attention elsewhere.
Jason Snyman
In case the lack of new handsets and software updates haven’t already spelt it out for Windows Phone users, there’s news. Diehard fans of the Windows Phone have spent the last year or so dreading this moment. In a series of tweets, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore all but confirmed it; the Windows Phone is dead. Well, not quite yet. So, Microsoft is no longer developing new features or hardware for the Windows Phone. As stated in the above tweet, they’ll still continue to support existing phones with bug fixes, but the platform is essentially, now, on life support. Delaying the inevitable.

Difficulties In The Mobile Market

In a follow-up tweet, Windows operating systems vice president, Belfiore, said that Microsoft had tried very hard to incentivize app developers. The volume of Windows Phone users is just too low for most companies to invest. This has been the biggest problem for Windows Phone users – a complete lack of apps. In an article we wrote a few months ago we covered Nokia’s switch from Windows to Android. We wrote about the difficulties they’ve faced with Microsoft, and highlighted the awful Windows Store as one of the biggest problems with the Lumia range. After selling Nokia to HMD Global, Microsoft continued under their own brand of Windows Phones. By then, though, the damage had already been done. A lack of desirable hardware, a lack of progress in software and the lack of management support saw a long period of stagnation. Instead of building on the success of 2012 and 2013, the Windows Phone was allowed to decline. They held steady enough through 2014, and by 2016, had all but collapsed. Until Belfiore’s weekend tweets, Microsoft has never actually stated what its plans are for Windows Mobile. Users may have felt strung along, wondering if it's time to let go. We had no idea how it would be developed in the future. Now we know, it won’t be. Because of the Windows Phone being so far behind Android and iOS, in terms of app development and hardware diversity, Belfiore himself has stated that he’s personally switched over to Android. So has Bill Gates. It’s a real shame, because the Windows Phone platform is a pleasure to use. It’s clean, easy and especially for PC users – there’s a sense of familiarity to it.  

The Spirit Of The Windows Phone Lives On

Microsoft’s new strategy is to offer all of its key apps and services to Android and iOS devices. They’ve shifted their focus from hardware to software, which, barring the atrocity that was Windows ME, they’ve always been rather good at. Their Universal Windows Platform is just the kind of thing they need to get the job done. Developers have been crying out for this cross-device ability for a long time. Develop an app, once, and it will work across all platforms. That’s the idea, at least. Part of the logic behind the universal app platform is based in the failures of the Windows Phone. Developers had no incentive to create apps for a mobile operating system with almost no share of the market. Now, they’ll be able to reuse most of their old code and make it happen. But, of course, developers just don’t do platforms which have no users. So, it’s a long shot, but it’s something Microsoft will have to look into. Just last week, Microsoft released an Android beta-version of its Edge web browser, along with Microsoft launcher. All of the major Office apps, such as Word and Excel, are already available on both Google and Apple’s platforms. Office, Outlook, OneNote and even Xbox are all there. The devices themselves may be dead, but the spirit of the Windows Phone is destined to live on. It has also long been rumoured that Microsoft will be bringing out a Surface Phone, with speculation that we may see it in 2018. The consensus, though, is that even if it takes them twenty years to finish it, that’s okay and probably best. They absolutely have to get it right this time, or the entire idea of a mobile Windows device may well and truly perish.