Microsoft’s vice president of operating systems, Joe Belfiore, has made the company’s position regarding Windows 10 Mobile clear in a series of revelatory tweets. “Building new features/hardware [isn’t] the focus,” wrote Belfiore, confirming what most already knew, and Microsoft fans already feared: The Windows 10 Mobile operating system is effectively dead.
The conversation started with a tweet to Belfiore asking if it was time to leave the Windows Mobile platform. He replied with a message saying companies still hand them out, and Microsoft will support the software; but then he confessed that he has already switched mobile systems. Although he doesn’t clarify which one he switched to, he mentions hardware diversity as a driving factor, indicating it’s Google Android.
Windows 10 Mobile and its faithful few fans haven’t been completely abandoned, and are promised updates to fix bugs or close security exploits, but no new features or devices are seemingly planned at all. Belfiore bemoans the lack of apps, a major factor in Windows 10 Mobile (and Windows Phone) losing out to Android and iOS. He says Microsoft paid developers, and assisted with writing apps to incentivize developers, but the “volume of users is too low for most companies to invest,” he adds.
At the end of last year, Windows Phone had a mere 0.7 percent of the global smartphone operating system market, and Windows 10 Mobile held only 14 percent of that figure. The majority of device owners still used Windows Phone 8.1. Since then, the Alcatel Idol 4S is almost the only new, consumer-focused, Windows 10 Mobile device to launch. If Microsoft isn’t going to release new versions of the software, or push hardware itself, other manufacturers probably won’t produce new devices either. Microsoft is fully aware it has completely lost the smartphone battle. Belfiore says, “a huge, huge majority” of those who use Windows computers, Xbox, or Office have a phone that doesn’t run Windows.
What does this mean for the Surface Phone, a repeatedly rumored device supposedly coming to save Windows 10 Mobile from absolutely obscurity? Rumors have spread for years, but no device has ever been previewed or released. When Digital Trends met with Microsoft’s VP of devices, Panos Panay, to introduce the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, he said there has always been a vision for the Surface line, although the exact products the range would contain has never been set in stone. However, now that no further investment is being made in Windows 10 Mobile hardware, if the Surface Phone ever existed, it’s unlikely to be completed and released.
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