Tuesday marks the end of Microsoft’s failed bid to get the world on Windows Mobile, Windows Phone or Windows 10 Phone. Come December 2019 Patch Tuesday, it will be the last time Microsoft ever offers security updates for devices running Windows 10 Mobile.
The end of Windows 10 Mobile patches is not a huge deal in itself. After all, even Microsoft execs and Microsoft’s co-founder, Bill Gates, have moved on to using mostly Samsung Android phones.
But the day is a marker for what Gates has described as his biggest mistake as CEO of one of the world’s biggest software companies. Last month he opined that the world would be on Windows Mobile if he had not been distracted by his self-made antitrust problems in the US and Europe.
“There’s no doubt that the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system. And so instead of using Android today, you would be using Windows Mobile,” Gates said, explaining Microsoft was just three months late delivering Windows Mobile to Motorola, just as Motorola launched the Moto Droid in 2009.
Microsoft’s lifecycle FAQ page doesn’t capture the drama smartphones caused to Microsoft. Instead it dryly states: “Windows 10 Mobile, version 1709 (released October 2017) is the last release of Windows 10 Mobile and Microsoft will end support on December 10, 2019. The end of support date applies to all Windows 10 Mobile products, including Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise.”
Microsoft has conducted an orderly and firm withdrawal of Windows Phone support ever since its current CEO, Satya Nadella, wrote off the $7bn-plus Nokia devices acquisition carried out under former CEO Steve Ballmer.
Last month it announced it would shut down the Windows Phone 8.1 app store on December 16, leaving users with an option to download apps ahead of that date. Some Lumia users could update to Windows 10 Mobile, but come the January 2020 Patch Tuesday date, there will be no more security updates.
Of course, Microsoft is gearing up for the release of its new dual-screen Surface mobile devices, which consist of the Android Surface Duo and the Windows 10X Surface Neo.
Microsoft in November began inviting interested developers to its preview program so it could “share how developers can unlock this new era of mobile creativity” without having to change too much code in existing apps.
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