Windows mobile suffers the Blue Screen of Death, Microsoft moves on

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Microsoft is done with the mobile operating system business. The man in charge of Windows 10, Joe Belfiore, announced the end of the mobile version in a tweet. Like Bill Gates, Belfiore switched to Android.

Current Windows mobile users – both of them – will continue to get security updates and other tweaks, but development of the system has ended. The market just wasn’t there, Belfiore tweeted…

We have tried VERY HARD to incent app devs. Paid money.. wrote apps 4 them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest.

According to IDC, a research company, it was a very small volume indeed – three one-thousandths of a percent – 0.03% – of the global market in the second quarter of 2017. Put another way, out of every 100,000 phones sold from April through June, only three shipped with Windows mobile installed. That’s despite Microsoft’s best efforts and megabucks. Even buying Nokia and making its own phones didn’t help.

Android and Apple’s iOS own the market. Blackberry is making Android phones. Sailfish and Tizen are barely handing on. Tizen is making a place for itself as an embedded operating system for consumer electronics devices; Sailfish is struggling to find a niche as a super-secure platform for the terminally paranoid.

There’s a good article by Vlad Savov in The Verge that tells of all the things Microsoft did right – not least, the tiled, flat user interface it introduced was picked up by web developers and became a design staple.

But the one thing it couldn’t shake was the perception that Windows is your grandfather’s operating system and Microsoft is the Ninth Circle of cubicle hell. Developers preferred to live under Apple’s ultra cool fascism or jump in the Android mosh pit dug by Google. Likewise, handset makers found a comfortable home in the relatively open Android environment.

Microsoft already turned down the path of becoming a platform-agnostic service provider. Now it can accelerate the pace, and push ahead in the mobile market without the distraction of Windows.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.