Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile OS Is on Life Support

Apart from security patches and bug fixes, users shouldn't expect new updates for the mobile operating system, let alone new hardware.

Microsoft phone

Microsoft has finally decided to pull the plug on Windows 10 Mobile, according to a couple of tweets from Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows 10 at Microsoft.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Microsoft executive admitted on Twitter that Microsoft is no longer developing new features for the mobile operating system, nor was the company working on new hardware, dashing the hopes of the Windows Phone faithful waiting for the long-rumored Surface Phone. Instead, they will have to settle for bug fixes and security patches.

In a follow-up tweet, Belfiore acknowledged that Microsoft held onto a sliver of the smartphone market, making it an unattractive target for developers.

He noted that the "volume of [Windows 10 Mobile] users is too low for most companies to invest," despite the company's efforts to build momentum around the operating system. Those efforts included building apps on behalf of other companies and even incentivizing developers with pay-outs.

While the company sheds the last vestiges of its failing mobile business, the loss may be more acutely felt by some rival smartphone makers, said Richard Windsor, an analyst at Edison Investment Research.

"The real loser here is not Microsoft, which is going from strength to strength in the enterprise, but the Android handset makers," said Windsor in email remarks sent to eWEEK. "If Windows had become a thriving alternative to Android and iOS then they would have had far more leverage over Google which could have resulted in much better economic terms as well as greater freedom."

Aside from Apple—the Cupertino, Calif. device maker is the only one to produce iPhones—most smartphone vendors are stuck with Google, for better or worse. "Unfortunately, with its failure, they are completely stuck giving Google a free reign to continue draining the Android industry of its profits," said Windsor. The one exception is Samsung, whose massive shipping volumes and market clout have helped it attain profitability.

Android phone vendors may also soon have to contend with Google on the hardware front. In September, Google revealed it had paid $1.1 billion to HTC for some of the latter's best smartphone engineers, including staffers who were already working on Google's line of Pixel smartphones.

The smartphone market is currently dominated by Google's Android mobile operating system. According to an Aug. 29 forecast from IDC, Android is expected to run on over 1.2 billion of the smartphones shipped in 2017, grabbing 85.2 percent of the market. Second-place iOS will nab a 14.6-percent share of the market, after Apple ships nearly 219 million iPhones.

Collectively, Android and iOS are poised to own 99.8 percent of the smartphone market by year's end. Only 2.7 million smartphones, or 0.2 percent of the market, will be running smartphone operating systems from Microsoft and other vendors.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...