Ever since the launch of Windows Phone, I’ve been enamored with the idea of having a Microsoft-backed mobile operating system on my phone. I was super excited when Microsoft initially showcased Windows Phone 7 way back when. It was something different! And those Live Tiles! And back then, when that Xbox app existed —before Microsoft’s own Android and iOS alternatives existed— I was all over that.
I jumped on that bandwagon and I refused to get off until I was forced to. I don’t think it’s an understatement that the app situation on Windows Phone was abysmal. It just wasn’t a good place to be. Even the apps that existed that were also present on other platforms were pale comparisons to those alternatives.
But then the sun set on Windows Phone as Microsoft debuted Windows Mobile 10. This mobile platform is actually what Microsoft has been working towards, and promising, since the debut of Windows Phone 7. This is Windows 10 on a mobile device! Microsoft even has a universal platform for apps, where they can work on your Windows-based phone, computer, tablet, and even the Xbox.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 is already on hundreds of millions of computers out there in the wild, and people seem to like it. At least, based on the feedback from Windows 8, Windows 10 is a pretty big hit. And Microsoft had such grand plans for the app situation. Big companies like Facebook and others were apparently on board, too. Things looked like we might see some major changes for the better, finally.
And someone like me could finally stop waiting for Microsoft’s big day to arrive.
But apparently that’s not happening anymore. That’s not a future I can look forward to in any meaningful way. Microsoft has cut over 1,800 jobs to “streamline the company’s smartphone hardware business.” As a result, Microsoft is apparently done with consumer phones moving forward, and will be focusing on the enterprise.
Not too long ago Microsoft said they were taking this year off from Windows Mobile and focusing on the bigger picture, and other products altogether. I already thought that was a bad idea, because Microsoft is at the bottom of the smartphone mountain and has been for a very long time. That means you keep working at it, trying to get more developers interested in the platform, and whatever else it takes. You certainly don’t take a break.
But, here we are weeks later and Microsoft’s announcement isn’t that big of a surprise, I guess. It’s still unfortunate.
There is a possibility that Microsoft is still going to launch a Surface Phone, but I imagine that they’ll sell it directly, and carriers probably won’t get launch devices. The company did that, in part, with the launch of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL. Microsoft will sell it as a business tool, especially with the Continuum feature on board, and some enterprise divisions out there in the real world will probably buy them up.
But for me, as a general consumer that still wants all of the things I can get from Android and iOS, and especially a ton of apps, it looks like Windows Mobile is dead to me. But that doesn’t mean I’m done using Microsoft products, though. Their software is still great, including their Office suite of apps and services, and Cortana, too.
All of this could very well be premature, but it honestly feels like Microsoft has been slipping to this point for a long time. Ever since BlackBerry gave up on its own platform and went with Android, Microsoft has been the biggest underdog, and I’ve been rooting for them for a long time. I’d like to see Microsoft make a huge comeback next year, launch a phone with great specifications and software with sweeping developer support, but I don’t think I can even hope that’ll happen anymore.
If Microsoft is leaving the consumer smartphone market, then I hope they continue to do a great job creating cross-platform apps that are really great to use, offer a strong backbone in the services department, and keep adding noteworthy features along the way.
Because Microsoft might be done with me in the smartphone department, but I’m certainly not done with them just yet.