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Microsoft calls it quits on Windows Phone hardware and features

After years of largely fruitless effort, Joe Belfiore confirms what many had long assumed

Microsoft will no longer update features or hardware of its Windows Phone platform, with only low impact work like bug fixes and security updates on its road map.

At this point, it would be reasonable to assume that Windows Phone was already at that stage, but Microsoft has never officially commented on the matter. Over the weekend, however, the lead of Microsoft's Windows 10 team, Joe Belfiore, made the company's intentions clear on Twitter.

"Of course we'll continue to support the platform," he said in response to a customer query. However, that support will only extend to "bug fixes, security updates, etc," while "building new features/[hardware] aren't the focus."

In other tweets, Belfiore admitted that he had switched away from Windows Phone as a personal user due to lack of diversity in apps and hardware. He also said that an Android version of Microsoft's Edge browser is on his team's timeline, meaning that the company is planning to open up software previously only available on the Windows Phone platform.

Microsoft has been attempting to build Windows Phone into a substantial competitor for iOS and Android for much of this decade. In 2012, Windows Phone 8 was positioned as a destination for gaming, with mobile spin-offs of core IPs like Halo developed for the platform. In September of the following year, Microsoft reinforced its ambitions with the €5.44 billion acquisition of Nokia.

However, less than two years later Microsoft took an impairment charge of $7.6 billion related to Nokia - more than the amount it paid for the firm - as it laid off 7,800 people, the majority of whom worked in mobile. In May 2016, another 1,850 jobs were cut, with mobile again the focus of the cuts.

"We have tried very hard incent app devs," Belfiore said on Twitter, capitalising the words "very hard" for effect. "Paid money.. wrote apps [for] them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest."

Belfiore ended that tweet with a sad-face emoji, but ultimately it seems that Microsoft has learned to take a broader view of its role in the mobile space. In response to another customer, Belfiore noted that, "a huge, huge majority of our Windows/Office (and Xbox) users are mixed-ecosystem. Most people have a different phone than 'PC'."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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