Windows Phone is dead.
You know this. Microsoft has told you in not so many words that they wouldn’t be updating the platform, but some factions held out hope for a reprieve. After all, Microsoft has yet to clarify their position on the rumored Surface Phone, which could be a radical update path for the Windows Phone, and it technically still supports Windows 10 Mobile, the successor to Windows Phone (though there is very little hardware). So there’s still hope, right?
Nope. None other than long-time Microsoft executive and the man who once championed the Windows Phone platform, Joe Belfiore, took out a 140-character stake on Sunday and jammed it through Windows mobile’s barely beating heart.
If you want to blame someone or something for the delivery of this painful news, try Edge for iOS.
Last week, Microsoft expanded on its strategy of Microsoft Everywhere by offering up a version of its relatively new web browser, Microsoft Edge, for iOS and Android. The platform-friendly version of Edge comes even as Windows 10 users still haven’t fully accepted Edge as their default browser. Yes, most of us still use Chrome on Windows.
Since the announcement, Belfiore, who currently serves as Microsoft corporate vice president of operating systems, has been on Twitter chatting about Windows, and, yes, Edge fans about the new mobile offerings. Inevitably, talk turned to Windows Phone.
One Twitter member asked plaintively, “Is it time to leave Windows Mobile platform?”
Aybata was asking a question tens of thousands of Windows mobile users want answered (even 0.03% of the estimated 2 billion smartphone users in the world would be 600,000).
Belfiore didn’t try to duck the question. Instead, he opened up, on Twitter of all places, and in a rather un-Microsoft-like fashion.
Sure, he started off slow, buffering the truth with a “Depends:”
But then he reminded Aybata that even he has given up on Windows Phone and is now using a different platform (we know from previous reports that it’s an iPhone) and in a way that mirrors many Windows desktop OS users. (He’s not the only one.)
That prompted one Twitter user to remind Belfiore that some individuals still choose to use Windows Phone. That’s when Belfiore dropped the hammer in a pair of tweets that offer more clarity on the situation than we’ve ever gotten before from Microsoft’s official channels.
There it is: Building is done, EOL support is underway.
Perhaps it was the distressed face emoji, but something prompted Belfiore to share even more about how hard Microsoft had worked to make Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile a thing and the rejection they faced.
Belfiore revealing on Twitter that Microsoft tried paying companies to build apps for the mobile platform is not something you typically hear Microsoft or really any developer admit.
I was impressed with Belfiore’s transparency, but, this being Twitter, some went on the attack.
When people switch to iOS or Android they will switch ecosystems, too. No more need for Microsoft then. That’ll be your next big problem.
— Ingo (@LaktoseIgnoranz) October 8, 2017
Unfazed, Belfiore simply reminded Ingo about the world we really live in:
Microsoft still wants 1 billion Windows 10 users, but its strategy long ago stopped being about Windows Everywhere and has transitioned to Microsoft Everywhere, which is why it’s so comfortable porting core apps to other platforms and why Belfiore is so confident debating with Windows fans on Twitter.
This mobile-first Microsoft Everywhere strategy is what sets Microsoft apart from Apple, which still maintains a closed ecosystem with product parts bolted onto complete a comprehensive and inescapable Apple World.
Microsoft lost the smartphone war so long ago that it does’t even bother to sow the seeds of uncertainty on social media when it comes to its mobile platform’s future.
A new (140-character) voice?
Belfiore’s Twitter thread, though, marks some of Microsoft’s clearest and most illuminating statements on the fate of Microsoft’s mobile strategy and should be taken as a signal for all Windows mobile customers when they think about future deployments. Investing too heavily in Windows on mobile could be a mistake.
I’m thinking of companies like Delta. As a frequent flier, I marvel at how the flight attendants still use Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone phablets (they standardized on the platform in 2013) to conduct in-flight drink and meal transactions. Pilots, according to a Delta spokesperson, use Surface tablets. On a recent flight, I thought I spotted one attendant using an iPhone, but that might have been an air-pressure-induced hallucination.
Over the next year or so, Windows Phone’s 0.03% device market share should dwindle to none, unless, of course, Microsoft decides to revive it as Surface Phone, a risky move that would be the uphill battle to end all uphill battles.
Microsoft didn’t want to talk about Surface Phone speculation when I contacted them — they never do — and a spokesperson had only this to say about Belfiore’s tweets:
We get that a lot of people who have a Windows 10 device may also have an iPhone or Android phone and we want to give them the most seamless experience possible no matter what device they’re carrying. In the Fall Creators Update, we’re focused on the mobility of experiences and bringing the benefits of Windows to life across devices to enable our customers to create, play and get more done. We will continue to support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL as well as devices from our OEM partners.
Like Joe said, “bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/hw aren’t the focus.”
Thanks, Twitter, for helping clear this up.