It’s no secret that Microsoft has been struggling to make waves in a smartphone market dominated by iPhone and Android. However, many people love the Windows Phone operating system, preferring it over rivals due to its clean design, and wouldn’t expect it to be going away anytime soon.
Unfortunately, corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group Joe Belfiore confirmed over Twitter that the tech giant was officially giving up on Windows Phone. He said “building new features/[hardware] aren’t the focus” for Microsoft, essentially spelling the beginning of the end for the platform.
However, long-term Windows Phone fans need not despair just yet. Microsoft is not going to abandon the platform altogether, as it will still provide support, security features and bug fixes, according to Mr Belfiore. This will ensure people aren’t forced to abandon the smartphones they already own, although it would probably be a good idea to switch to a new model when the chance arises.
Despite Mr Belfiore’s tweets, Microsoft is being fairly vague about the situation. When questioned about them abandoning Windows Phone by TechRadar, the company provided a statement that didn’t really answer any questions about the future of the operating system.
Microsoft said: “We will continue to support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950, and Lumia 950 XL as well as devices from our OEM partners.” However, the company was unclear as to the exact future of the operating system.
The statement said that Microsoft was “focused on the mobility of experiences and bringing the benefits of Windows to life across devices”, but added: “We get that a lot of people who have a Windows 10 device may also have an iPhone or Android phone and we want to give them the most seamless experience possible no matter what device they’re carrying.”
However, Mr Belfiore was clear in his statements. As for the reasons why Microsoft is giving up on Windows Mobile, the corporate vice president blamed a lack of apps first and foremost. In another tweet he said the company has tried very hard to incentivise app developers, including by paying them and even writing apps for them.
However, unfortunately for Microsoft the main problem was the lack of people using the platform. Without a high volume of users, most developers wouldn’t invest in Windows Phone. This led to few apps, which in turn led to fewer users. This was a spiral that it turned out Microsoft was unable to escape from.
Even Microsoft representatives haven’t wanted to use the phone, most notably the company’s famous co-founder Bill Gates. He recently admitted that he’d switched to an Android phone in an interview with Fox News, although added that he has a lot of Microsoft software installed on it.
Microsoft has had a string of bad luck with Windows Phone ever since 2010, when the operating system was launched to much fanfare. Despite the phones performing incredibly well, with the handsets being made by HTC, the sales were disappointing and did not exceed those of the Windows devices already on the market.
Fans of the operating system will therefore, unfortunately, have to turn their gaze towards other platforms in future. This also does not bode well for future developers. If the tech giant that is Microsoft couldn’t manage to gain a foothold in the market, then they will have to have something very unique to offer if they want to compete with Android and iOS.