Windows Phone is dead

Windows Phone is dead: the long demise of Microsoft's operating system

Over and over: With the official end of support, Microsoft recently officially buried Windows Phone. For the remaining users this means: There will be no more updates, even critical security gaps will remain open from now on.


At one point, Microsoft had high hopes for the operating system. First presented to the public in October 2010, Windows Phone was supposed to stand up to Android and the iPhone. Indeed, the first reactions were promising. The testers praised the innovative design, which not simply copied Apple's concepts, but used interactive tiles.

The first big coup followed just a few months later: With Nokia, Microsoft was able to win the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer for Windows Phone - and exclusively. So the basis was laid. Some analysts even predicted that Windows Phone would soon overtake iOS as number 2 among smartphone operating systems. Alone: ​​The consumers didn't really want to play along with this bill.

Reality meets vision

The early Windows Phones sold poorly, while Google was able to rally more and more hardware manufacturers with Android and expand its market power at an impressive rate. Microsoft - and Nokia - responded by increasingly targeting the low-end market. A strategy that should actually bring the operating system certain successes: In individual countries, the market share of Windows Phone rose into the double-digit range. Admittedly, this success had a downside: With the average retail price of devices with Windows Phone at USD 148 at the end of 2015, it is impossible to make money.


The preferred partnership with Nokia also soon had negative effects: other manufacturers quickly lost interest in the development of smartphones with Windows Phone. Behind the scenes, it was repeatedly heard that it simply makes no sense to compete against a manufacturer preferred by Microsoft in such a narrow market segment.

Meanwhile, Nokia slid into an ever deeper crisis. The existing business went down the drain faster than expected, while the smartphone business, which is completely tied to Windows Phone, could not even begin to absorb this slump in sales. The release of Windows Phone 8 and finally Windows Phone 8.1 in April 2014 did nothing to change this situation.

Nokia crisis

And so the close embrace between Nokia and Microsoft ultimately turned out to be a real problem. When Nokia began to slip, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer decided to take over the mobile communications division of the traditional manufacturer. It was one of the last big decisions for Ballmer, who was replaced by Satya Nadella shortly afterwards. The fact that the latter had originally rejected the deal fitted quite well into the chaotic picture that Microsoft's smartphone business was giving up at the time.

Hardly anything is left of what Nokia once represented, and practically all of the employees who were taken over have since been laid off. However, Microsoft has not yet given up smartphone operating system development. With Windows 10 Mobile there is a currently still developed successor for Windows Phone. In terms of market share, it plays an even less important role than its predecessor. In view of the small selection of available devices, sales are so minimal that many market researchers no longer even list them separately.

Early mistakes

Anyone looking for the causes of the failure of Windows Phone must not limit themselves to the Nokia / Microsoft dynamics, but must go back even further in the past. The decisive mistakes were made years before. The interview in which Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer laughed at the iPhone in 2007 and quite obviously did not understand what fundamental change in client computing was taking place before his eyes can be almost symbolic of this.

In the end, however, it was mainly Android with a kind of better Windows model that took Microsoft's breath away. A neutral platform that was not only free but also open source, on the other hand, could not come up with Microsoft with its model focused on license income. Especially since Google had already won over practically every major player in the industry when Windows Phone first appeared in 2010.

Windows 10

What remains is Windows 10 Mobile, which Microsoft still maintains. According to the latest figures from Adduplex, this is only a limited consolation for existing users of the system: only a quarter of all Windows smartphones that are still in use run with the latest version of the operating system. Everyone else just lost support.

For the future, fans of Microsoft's mobile operating system really only have the vague hope of better times. With the Surface Phone, the manufacturer wants to return to the market for mobile phones at some point, according to a rumor that has been heard over and over again. One that has been circulating through the rumor mill for a number of years, and so far has not really come true. Meanwhile, Microsoft has long since adapted itself to the current market reality: The Windows manufacturer's app development is currently focused entirely on Android and iOS. (apo, 13.7.2017)