Opinion: Windows Phone is (finally) being put to rest

Microsoft has finally admitted Windows Phone is being put to rest and no further hardware or features will be developed for it. The platform offered a refreshing alternative to the ‘me too’ approach between iOS and Android, but that was also part of its downfall.

While the platform still had a chance, it was too complicated to port apps from iOS and/or Android to Windows Phone. Between iOS and Android, it was relatively easy.

Over the years, Microsoft realised this and launched several tools for improving the porting process. The Android tool, Project Astoria, was abandoned. The iOS tool, Project Islandwood, continued and was useful, but it was too late.

The small but dedicated fanbase of the platform abandoned it from the lack of apps, and the lack of fans provided little incentive for app developers to spend their precious time building apps (and offering ongoing support) for it.

Microsoft persisted. The software giant hoped to call on its historic developer community by creating further porting tools, such as Project Centennial, to port the huge library of existing Win32 apps to UWP. This also wasn’t anywhere near as successful as the company would have liked.

In what appeared to be sheer desperation, Microsoft even started building apps on behalf of companies such as Facebook. Google, meanwhile, killed the YouTube app Microsoft built for Windows Phone. Nothing was working and iOS and Android reached a point that it’s hard to imagine any newcomer being able to compete.

Observers will have noticed the increasing attention Microsoft has been giving to competing mobile platforms. The company’s approach changed from needing to own the platform, like Windows in its prime, to supporting their users where they are.

On Android, due to Google’s less walled approach, Microsoft is able to do more. Last week, the company’s dedicated launcher changed its name from ‘Arrow Launcher’ to ‘Microsoft Launcher’ and offered further confirmation of the intention to provide a custom experience on top of an already successful platform (for those who want it.)

Many, including me, love Microsoft’s new hardware. Its Surface line is gorgeous and easily gives Apple a run for its money. Hopefully, one day we’ll see a Surface Phone running on Android with the Microsoft Launcher, but it’s better not to hold out hope.

The smartphone wars are pretty much over. Android and iOS are both wildly successful and both hardware and software updates get smaller by the year. Meanwhile, new areas such as mixed reality and AI are opening up. It makes sense for Microsoft to abandon the past and pour its resources into what’s next to ensure it doesn’t get left behind again.

For now, Microsoft will continue providing security and stability updates for Windows Phone but nothing else. RIP 2010-2017.

What are your thoughts on the end of the line for Windows Phone? Let us know in the comments.

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