It feels like forever ago that Microsoft had a viable option in the smartphone wars, but that time is officially coming to an end.
Microsoft ended support for Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile a long while back, but now the company has confirmed that security updates for the platform will be ending as of this December (via Thurrot). That’s still quite a ways out, yes, but it’s a clear indication that Microsoft has decided against moving ahead in the smartphone market, and, instead, will be focusing its attention on (primarily) Android, but won’t be leaving iOS out in the dark, either.
A report from The Verge earlier today reveals that Microsoft is also switching gears a bit when it comes to its digital personal assistant, Cortana. The company no longer sees it as a competitive offering when compared to Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa (and one would assume Apple’s Siri?), and instead wants to simply offer Cortana as another option that can be used in conjunction with those other assistants.
Cortana isn’t going away (yet), but it’s not necessarily getting as much of a push from Microsoft as the other companies are giving theirs.
For fans of Microsoft’s products, this is a bit of a sad day! I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the day we all said goodbye to Palm’s webOS or anything, but it feels pretty close. Even if it has been a long time coming, like in slow motion. You didn’t even need to read the tea leaves to know that we were always going to end up here. iOS has retained its dominance for so long, and Android has climbed its own ladder to find its own comfortable place in the smartphone market, there just wasn’t much room for Windows Phone/Mobile.
Despite the fact that Windows is still a ridiculously popular desktop operating system, it just didn’t take off in the mobile space. And it’s not like Microsoft didn’t try to change its fate. Windows 10 Mobile, especially, was meant to be the bridge between phones, tablets, and desktop computers — all running the same software. But it never gained any significant traction, or at least not in the way that Microsoft wanted.
I was a huge fan of Windows Phone — not so much Windows 10 Mobile, mostly because by then I realized I needed the best apps possible (or apps in general), and so I’d resigned myself to sink even further into the iOS (and Android, sort of) ecosystem. But I was fully on board Microsoft’s lofty goals for Windows Phone back in the day. I wanted to be able to seamlessly use my phone and computer from one app and service to another. And I wanted to use my phone as a controller for my Xbox 360. I wanted to be able to start a game on my console, continue it on my phone when I had to leave, and then finish the play session back on the Xbox from right where I left off.
I wanted all of that, but none of it ever came to pass in a fully-realized product. And those Live Tiles? That was a genuinely awesome idea. Being able to see pertinent information on tiles of various sizes, or see pictures in an album right on the home screen. All of that was pretty awesome, and it was easily one of the best ideas for a smartphone in years. (Too bad it wasn’t a great idea for a desktop OS, though.)
All of that to say, I’m curious if any of you out there ever gave Windows Phone/Mobile a shot, and, if you did, what were your thoughts on it? Did you like it in general? And what eventually made you switch away from the platform? If you never tried Microsoft’s mobile operating system, what kept you away?