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News & Blog

The Legacy of Windows Mobile

Microsoft was early to recognize the potential of smartphones. So early in fact, that it had a presence in mobile handhelds before the smartphone was really a thing. Its Windows CE operating system powered many PDAs that preceded them.

In 2015, Active Digital hosted several mobility events at the Microsoft office in London, and quite honestly, at the time, the future of Lumia looked bright.

However, over the last two years, Microsoft has struggled to compete with the dominant forces of iOS and Android. The dismantling of Windows Mobile began within months of the Nokia phone business acquisition with the start of the Nadella era in early 2014, two months before the Nokia deal closed. There were many signs leading up to the end of Windows Mobile/Windows for Phones, including the extensive development of Microsoft apps and services for its rival platforms.

Apps like Office 365, Skype, and Cortana will now serve as the foundation for the company's smartphone presence. The latest push to Microsoftize the Android experience comes via the Microsoft Edge app, as well as the Microsoft Launcher app. Originally launched two years ago as the Arrow project from its Microsoft Garage effort that produced almost all of its apps for iOS and Android. One of the launcher's goals is to help bridge desktop-mobile experiences such as the cross-device Clipboard and OneDrive files-on-demand.

Microsoft gives up a few potential advantages by burying mobile Windows. For example, while it offers Cortana on iOS and Android, Microsoft's digital assistant will be hard-pressed to compete with the native agents on those platforms. Furthermore, as Google had to do with Chrome, Microsoft will have to forego its own rendering engine on iOS for Safari's. Even on Android, Edge will struggle to compete with Chrome based on how its desktop cousin has fared.

On the other hand, staying out of the mobile OS playground will encourage cooperation from former rivals such as Apple, which has been promoting Office on iOS for some time even as the company's Surface group pokes the MacBook and iPad.

In summary, Windows Mobile were simply a victim of larger marketplace shifts. Microsoft's exit comes at a time when the smartphone market is coming to terms with its middle age (in terms of technology lifecycles).

One consolation for the company is that its work on getting Windows 10 running on Qualcomm-based smartphones has likely paid off in Qualcomm Snapdragon-equipped PCs due to appear in the coming months.

Some of our customers feel sad about the end of Windows Lumia devices. They were, overall, cost effective, well-built smartphones, but unfortunately, they haven’t stood the test of time. Lumia customers are now considering their options on what platform to move to. However, so our sources inform us, Wiley Fox are due to release a Windows 10 device in mid-December, so perhaps all if not lost.

Microsoft lost the battle of the decade, but is cultivating technologies, I’m sure they will create and innovate again, now and in the future.





Posted on 03 November 2017