Of march we’ll continue to support a platform.. bug fixes, confidence updates, etc. But building new features/hw aren’t a focus. 😟 https://t.co/0CH9TZdIFu
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) October 8, 2017
During a weekend, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore tweeted acknowledgment of something that has been suspected for many months: Microsoft is no longer building new facilities or new hardware for Windows Mobile. Existing upheld phones will accept bug fixes and confidence updates, though a height is radically now in upkeep mode.
Microsoft’s problems in a mobile marketplace are no secret, though for a time a association looked as if it was gripping Windows Mobile as a going regard regardless. Through 2016, Microsoft assembled new builds for a Windows Insider module and combined new facilities to Windows Mobile. At around a time of recover of a Windows 10 Creators Update in Apr this year, that growth mostly belligerent to a halt. Windows Mobile, that already lacked certain facilities that were delivered to Windows on a PC, had a growth forked. PC Windows growth continued on a “Redstone 3” bend (which will cap in a recover of a Fall Creators Update after this month); Windows Mobile languished on a bend named “feature2.”
But in annoy of this, until Belfiore’s tweets during a weekend, Microsoft never indeed pronounced what a skeleton for Windows Mobile were or how it would be grown going forward.
We have attempted VERY HARD to incent app devs. Paid money.. wrote apps 4 them.. though volume of users is too low for many companies to invest. ☹️ https://t.co/ePsySxR3LB
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) October 8, 2017
Answering another doubt on Twitter, Belfiore explained that Microsoft never got over a app inducement hurdle, with a user volume too low to transparent a investment from app developers. In late 2017, with a height all though extinct, that’s not tremendously surprising. Over a final year, sales of Windows Mobile inclination collapsed. Two to 3 years ago, annual sales of Windows Phones numbered in a tens of millions; now, they’re tighten to zero.
For fans of a platform—and I’m one—the statement… a admission… is only acknowledgment of what we’ve prolonged suspected though hoped to avoid. The Windows Phone design, with a confidant Live Tiles, white-on-black theme, and frail design, is still a mobile height that we find many pleasing to use. It’s purify and appealing and courteous in a approach that a foe only isn’t. We wanted it to attain given we favourite a product.
An unlucky start
What creates Microsoft’s position quite disappointing, during slightest for this writer, is a continued clarity that it didn’t have to be this way. In building Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Microsoft done a series of fumbles.
The association was too delayed to grasp a significance of capacitive screens and finger-first user interfaces. Instead of saying a iPhone and immediately starting growth on Windows Phone, a association initial attempted to swindle some simple finger-friendly interface facilities to a (old) Windows Mobile—an handling complement that remained essentially stylus-oriented—with tiny replicas of rodent interfaces.
When Windows Phone 7 strike a marketplace in 2010, it was transparent that Redmond did, in fact, know how to put together a high-quality, finger-based user interface and build an handling complement around that interface. This initial recover hold promise, though it was underline poor—it didn’t even have duplicate and pulp during first, in a bizarre mirroring of a iPhone’s early underline deficits—and maybe some-more fundamentally, Microsoft was adhering to a normal business indication of charging hardware companies for program licenses.
On one level, this preference was understandable, given it’s a indication that had proven hugely successful for Windows and modestly successful for Windows Mobile in a pre-iPhone era. But on another level, it was clearly a mistake: a head-to-head foe in this marketplace wasn’t iOS (because Apple doesn’t permit iOS to third parties) though Google’s Android. And while there were (and are) chartering complexities around a Google Apps and Google Play Store, a core Android handling complement was and is 0 cost for hardware companies. Anyone can chuck some tools into a phone-shaped box and slap Android onto it but profitable Google a penny.
Microsoft afterwards subjected users of this nascent height to a unpleasant transition. Windows Phone 7 was subsequent from a aged Windows Mobile software. Windows Phone 8, expelled in late 2012, was not; it was a kin to a desktop Windows handling system regulating a Windows NT kernel. Strategically, this was a right thing to do. Microsoft unified a Windows development regulating a common handling complement heart and, increasingly, developer APIs opposite phones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs, servers, and even a Xbox and HoloLens.
But a pierce was not but pain. Windows Phone 7 inclination couldn’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8, withdrawal early adopters with phones that were betimes end-of-lifed and a bad ambience in their mouths. Moreover, a small work of relocating to a common heart and APIs was such a outrageous endeavour that it didn’t give Microsoft most time to indeed work on facilities and capabilities. Windows Phone 7 had a underline necessity relations to Android and iOS, and Windows Phone 8, rather than shutting this underline deficit, was instead focused on updating and replacing a handling system’s core.
A association that had some-more immediately famous both a hazard and a event a iPhone represented, as good as a business mutation that Android done inevitable, competence good have avoided these problems. Quicker adoption of loyal hold interfaces, a preference to use a common NT heart height from a outset, a pierce to a store-based income indication rather than handling complement licensing; in hindsight, Microsoft could have done improved decisions and done them sooner. Doing so competence good have done Windows Phone a some-more successful platform.
Green shoots of success
In annoy of all of this, there was some means for optimism. The initial era of Windows Phone 8 handsets from Nokia were good received. Nokia had a good preference of phones from a flagship Lumia 920 down to a inexpensive and contented Lumia 520. Strong cameras became something of a Lumia trademark, and Windows Phone-specific pattern elements—such as a dedicated camera symbol with half-press autofocus—provided courteous differentiation. The huge Windows Phone 8.1 update combined a operation of useful features, including a best-in-class swipe-based keyboard.
As most as a height had struggled given a 2010 launch, a call of 2012 and 2013 hardware and program releases seemed to put it on a surer footing. At a low end, inclination like a Lumia 520 offering a loyal smartphone knowledge that Android struggled to match. Comparably labelled Android hardware wasn’t as good: a program felt slower; a hardware felt reduction delicately constructed. And during a high end, a appealing program and high-end cameras were adequate to bother interest. Per Kantar Worldpanel, Windows Phone strike a 12-percent marketplace share in a UK in Aug 2013; 12.9 percent in France in Nov 2013; 17.1 percent in Italy in Dec 2013; 10.5 percent in Germany even as late as Aug 2015. The domestic story was never as good; Windows Phone hardly burst 5 percent in a US, that for an American association was always awkward.
These numbers still left Windows Phone in third place (or, occasionally, second place in markets with quite diseased iPhone penetration). But a arena was upwards, with a height and product brew that was suitable for a far-reaching operation of audiences. In Sep 2013, Microsoft announced skeleton to buy Nokia’s phone business in a understanding that cost $7.1 billion and wouldn’t tighten until Apr 2014. The destiny felt promising: keep a same product mix, keep creation a height better, and Windows Phone looked good positioned to, during a really least, interest out a plain third place and maybe make a plea for second place.
Listing picture by Peter Bright