Pour one out for Microsoft’s smartphone platform. After years of half-measures aimed at competing with Android and iOS, Microsoft is calling it quits on Windows 10 Mobile. The December 2019 patches for Windows 10 Mobile will be the last. The company is urging any Windows Mobile holdouts to make plans to switch to Android or iOS before it’s too late.
This is not the first phase in Microsoft’s mobile platform wind-down. In 2017, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore confirmed that the company had no plans to develop new features for Windows on phones, which runs on the same code base as Windows PCs. It continued to release bug fixes and security patches as needed, but even a big company like Microsoft couldn’t leave the project in a holding pattern forever. The most recent build of Windows 10 for phones is 1709 from late 2017 — this should not come as a surprise.
So, the few remaining Windows 10 Mobile users have less than a year to make their exit. Microsoft already ended support for Windows Phone 8.1 in 2017. The Windows 10 shutdown will start on December 10th, 2019 when the final security updates roll out. At that point, Windows 10 Mobile devices will only get less secure as time goes on. Bundled cloud services and syncing features (like photo uploads) will continue to work after the shutdown until March 10th, 2020. A handful of online tools could work for as long as a year after the end of support, but Microsoft isn’t making any promises.
This announcement comes on the heels of Edge’s demise. Microsoft announced several weeks ago that it planned to build a new Chromium-based browser after Edge and its EdgeHTML engine failed to gain traction. That decision might have something to do with the end of Windows 10 Mobile support — with the lack of apps on the platform, the browser is vital. Microsoft would either have to build a version of the new browser for phones or continue making updates for Edge. Neither option is appealing when the user base is so small.
Microsoft kept its software and services confined to Windows Phone back when Microsoft had hopes of becoming a robust third-place smartphone contender. When that started to look less likely, it branched out to Android and iOS. You can get all of Microsoft’s apps on both platforms now, and that’s where it says Windows Phone users should look.