The day that Windows Mobile died. No more support or bug fixes, as Microsoft finally calls time on mobile OS ambitions
Microsoft has finally ended its mobile ambitions with the news that Windows 10 Mobile operating system will no longer receive support or security updates.
This has been long expected. As far back as 2017 Microsoft warned it would no longer build or develop new features or hardware for Windows 10 Mobile.
Then in January 2019 it confirmed that support for its mobile OS would officially end in December, and advised diehards to switch to either Android or iOS handsets.
Windows 10 Mobile
And now Microsoft has confirmed its demise as of Tuesday 10 December.
“As of December 10, 2019, Windows 10 Mobile users are no longer eligible to receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft for free,” announced Microsoft.
“Third parties or paid support programs may provide ongoing support, but it is important to recognize that Microsoft support will not publicly provide updates or patches for Windows 10 Mobile,” it said.
“Only device models that are eligible for Windows 10 Mobile, version 1709 are supported through the end date,” it said.
It is fair to say that Windows 10 Mobile struggled to capture support from users, hardware manufacturers and application developers since it replaced Windows Phone in 2015.
The idea was that by creating a mobile version of Windows 10, Microsoft would create scale for developers, making it economically viable to port their apps.
But Microsoft had long ago alienated its mobile developer community as successive versions of the Windows Phone operating system required brand new apps to be developed, just to keep working on the ailing platform.
Windows Phone 7 for example used Silverlight, Windows Phone 8 went for the Windows Runtime, and Windows 10 Mobile used Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
Tales in Tech History: Windows Phone
He said being late to market by just a few months cost Microsoft between $300 to $400 billion.
Microsoft as a company, Gates claimed got distracted from building a dominant mobile operating system, because of the disruptive antitrust probe from the US Justice Department in the late 90s and early 2000s.
The death of Windows Phone and now Windows 10 Mobile, has had another consequences, not the least of which was the death of its AI assistant Cortana.
In reality Microsoft’s decision to exit the mobile business has been a long time coming.
Microsoft sold its feature phone business to Foxconn subsidiary FIH and HMD Global for $350 million (£242m) back in 2016.
HMD Global then brought back Nokia branded smartphones to the market in 2017, running Android OS.
Microsoft’s commitment to mobile devices had been questioned ever since it acquired Nokia’s smartphone business for £4.6 billion in 2013, as its ‘Lumia’ phones were the flagship range for Redmond’s Windows Phone operating system.
But Satya Nadella rapidly lost faith in the mobile business after a number of ill-received Windows Phone devices, although Redmond had repeatedly maintained that it was still committed to Windows 10 on mobile devices.
For years Microsoft was also rumoured to developing a Surface phone running Windows.
But when Redmond did finally preview its Surface smartphone (called the Surface Duo) in October this year, it turned out to be a two-screen folding phone that ran on the Android operating system.