Windows Phone 8.1 is officially dead as Microsoft ends support

Lumia 650
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Microsoft has officially ended support for Windows Phone 8.1, the third iteration of the company’s operating system built specifically for mobile that arrived on the scene in 2014. As of today, it will no longer receive updates going forward, according to Microsoft’s support site.

Every year it seems another aspect of Windows Phone is quietly killed off, and this news leaves only Windows 10 as the remaining active platform for the few handsets capable of running it. The last phone Microsoft released was the midrange Lumia 650 in February 2016.

About this time last year, Microsoft heavily scaled back its mobile group by roughly 1,850 jobs. The bulk of the cuts came to those at the division’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland. Formerly Nokia’s home, Microsoft completed its acquisition of that team in 2014, renamed it Microsoft Mobile, and adopted the Lumia brand while licensing the Nokia name out to HMD.

However, for Windows Phone owners, the death of version 8.1 is perhaps the most serious blow to the platform yet. An estimated 76.3 percent of phones running Windows are still on 8.1 according to figures from AdDuplex. Many of those devices are presumed stranded on 8.1, though analysts add it’s just as likely users abandoned those phones for Android and iOS.

Meanwhile, it is estimated only 17 percent of mobile devices made the leap to Windows 10, which is slated to reach end of life in the fall of 2018. Microsoft unified the Windows Phone brand with Windows 10 in 2016, but the Creators Update released earlier in the year left out any major feature additions for phones.

Combined with the platform’s historical lack of the same breadth of apps available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, it seems Windows 10 has been condemned to languish on phones for another year and a half, with perhaps the only updates coming in the form of security patches and bug fixes.

Instead, Microsoft has turned its attention to supporting devices it used to compete with. Cortana is now available on Android and iOS. Sprinkles, the company’s machine-learning-powered camera app, is exclusive to iPhone. Even Garage, Microsoft’s hub for unique projects that operates similarly to Google’s Area 120, is routinely pumping out interesting apps that never make it to the Windows Store.

While the fate of Windows Phone appears to be all but sealed, its developers are making sure their best ideas reach the public in one form or another — even if they’re on devices without the Microsoft name printed up top.


The stand-alone Palm is now available, but you don’t really need it

Palm, the reinvented company carrying the name of the brand we all know, has released a stand-alone version of its tiny phone. That means you don't need another phone to use it with, and you don't need to pay for another data plan.

Google may speed up the rollout of RCS Chat by taking over for carriers

What is RCS messaging? It's the successor to today's text messaging. It offers features like real-time audio, read receipts, and encryption, but adoption so far has been slow. Here's everything you need to know.

Microsoft wants to put an ad for Office right on your keyboard

Microsoft could be adding a dedicated Office key to Windows keyboards in the future. Screenshots of a survey sent out regarding the key have surfaced and leave us wondering why Microsoft would want to add such a key?

A dual-screen device from Microsoft is in the works. Here's what we know so far

Would you be interested in a dual-screen Surface computer? The Surface Centaurus is a Microsoft project working on just that -- and Microsoft already has a prototype. Here's all the important information on Centaurus!

Scam robocalls to hospitals could lead to a major health hazard

Robocalls can be an annoying waste of your time, but that can be a matter of life or death to a hospital. Scam robocalls are bombarding U.S. hospitals, with some centers losing hours of productivity as a result.

Leaked Pixel 4 display sizes could mean smaller bezels on Google's new phone

Rumors abound about the Google Pixel 4, Google's next Pixel phone following the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Getting around the leaks, Google straight-up teased an image of the back of the phone. Here's what you need to know.

Nomad’s new Kevlar cables are seriously tough and seriously fast

Nomad has just released an update to its super-tough Kevlar range of cables to include a new USB-C to Lightning cable and a blisteringly fast 100W USB-C cable. They're expensive, but they're the toughest cables you'll find.

The best Google Pixel 2 XL cases and covers for protection and style

If you want to protect that 6-inch screen and aluminum body, it’s time to shop for the best Google Pixel 2 XL cases and covers. We've rounded up our top picks so far to style and protect your Google phone.

Rumors say Sony is making an Xperia phone with a six-lens rear camera

How many camera lenses is too many? In the current market, we've seen phones with one, two, three, and even five lenses -- and now rumors are currently saying Sony is planning an Xperia smartphone with six lenses.

The LG V50 ThinQ will be available from Verizon starting on June 20

LG has a habit of releasing too many phones. Following on the heels of the V40 ThinQ, the company has now unveiled the LG V50 ThinQ. There's 5G support, as well as an accessory that turns it into a foldable phone.

Your smartphone knows all your secrets. Put it on lockdown with these tips

Having your smartphone hacked can feel like someone robbed your house. It's a massive invasion of privacy and a violation of your personal space. We've put together a checklist of precautions that will help you avoid this terrible fate.

You can delete Snapchat messages in a snap with these simple tips

If you've ever sent a message to someone and wish you could delete it, Snapchat has a feature you'll like. Yes, it lets you delete messages you've already sent. There are some limitations, though. Here's how to delete Snapchat messages.

T-Mobile and Sprint may sell $6 billion in assets to win merger approval

T-Mobile and Sprint are getting closer to merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. The new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.

Report: Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 10 on August 7 in New York

According to a new report, Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 10 at an event on August 7 in New York City. The news lines up with last year's event, which took place on August 9, and was also in New York.