Goodbye, Windows Phone! It was nice knowing you
Windows Phone, Microsoft’s mobile platform and the only platform that ever came close to being a serious competitor to iOS and Android in the post-BlackBerry era, is no more.
On Tuesday, July 11, Windows Phone 8.1 fell into Microsoft’s “end of support” category for software, which means there will be no updates to it of any kind, including security updates.
That last bit is important: Even if you’re still clinging to your Windows Phone device, the lack of security updates should be reason enough for you to immediately start shopping for a new phone. If you keep using an unsupported device, you’ll be wide open to hackers, and that usually ends in all your content being locked until you pay a certain amount of Bitcoin to a certain address.
While Windows Phone has been more or less dead for a while, its market share having deteriorated to less than one percent a year ago, the fact that the OS will no longer be updated is the last nail in the coffin.
Windows Phone was originally launched in 2010, and back then it showed promise. It had a sleek, tile-based interface that was visually quite different than iOS and Android, and it initially had the largest smartphone companies on its side, including HTC, Samsung, and LG.
But the number of Windows Phone apps never came close to catching up with what Apple’s and Google’s mobile platforms had to offer, and even when a service (like Instagram) offered a Windows Phone app, it was usually inferior to its counterparts on other platforms. Slowly but surely, developers stopped bothering with Windows Phone apps, and Microsoft threw in the towel, first on its Lumia handset line and on the platform itself.
Microsoft technically hasn’t given up on mobile, but it recently spent more time talking about iOS and Android than its own mobile platform
Microsoft technically hasn’t given up on mobile; the company still supports Windows 10 Mobile, which is the successor to Windows Phone. The problem is only a minority of Windows Phone 8.1 phones are able to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile. But we haven’t heard about an exciting Windows smartphone or a new set of features on the platform in years, and Microsoft definitely isn’t talking much about it. In fact, at its annual Build conference in May, the company has talked more about iOS and Android than Windows 10 Mobile. And the fact that the company laid off the bulk of its phone division two years ago (followed by more layoffs last year) doesn’t help, either.
As it is, for the foreseeable future, there will be only two major smartphone platforms to choose from: iOS and Android. Given its initial promise, Windows Phone feels like a wasted opportunity, but the pieces just never fully fell into place for Microsoft. Maybe next time.