It’s been a rough year for Windows Phone supporters like myself. First, Microsoft confirms that there won’t be any new flagship phones until the Windows 10 Mobile launch later this fall. Then, major players such as Chase Bank and Bank of America kill their Windows Phone apps. We’ve already seen massive job cuts among the employees obtained when Microsoft acquired Nokia. Now we see another nail in the coffin with Microsoft cutting 7800 jobs, primarily from the Windows Phone business. To go along with that, Microsoft is taking a $7.6B impairment charge from the acquisition of Nokia assets. I never understood why Steve Ballmer was so keen to make this acquisition before he went out. It was a bad idea back then and it’s a bad idea now.
In an e-mail from Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees, Mr. Nadella affirms that he is committed to first-party devices including phones. It’s hard to believe though. He’s been actively killing off the phone division with job cuts and restructuring since he took over as CEO.
With no new flagship devices in two years, Windows Phone supporters are losing hope. We love the platform but we want something new. With rumors of the Lumia 940 and Lumia 940 XL, it sounds like something is coming but I have little faith that this device is going to wow. We’ve been asked to wait too long.
Is there hope?
Even with the slaughtering of the Windows Phone division, the newly formed Windows and Devices group has been trudging forward. In their last attempt at a Hail Mary, they have put together some incredible tools with the Universal Windows Platform. Developers can use a single project to target Windows 10 laptops, tablets and phones. This support will later expand to the Xbox One. To entice Android and IOS developers to the platform, Microsoft has announced Universal Windows Platform Bridges to make it easier to bring their existing code to the platform as well. We see commitment in the platform from the Windows and Devices team, but it certainly doesn’t align with what’s happening at the executive level of Microsoft. While Microsoft is doing what they can to entice developers to come to the platform, I fear it may be too late.
In the meantime, we are seeing an increased number of Microsoft apps arrive on iOS and Android. We now have Office apps including Word, Excel and PowerPoint available on iPhones as well as Android phones and tablets. The good news is that if the Windows Phone platform dies, we’ll have the Microsoft apps we like on whatever platform we go too.
For a long time I have been saying that I think Microsoft’s “Plan B” is Android. We have already seen Microsoft put money into the alternative operating system Cyanogen. I could certainly see Microsoft bringing some of the Windows Phone experience there. This would give us the interface we like but access to the apps that we need. We also see the investment in the Universal Platform Bridge, Project Astoria, which allows Android developers to build code in an Android IDE but target it to Windows Phone.
What to do?
I have a shred of hope for the Windows Phone platform. I really am curious to see what will come with the Universal Windows Platform. Could the Universal Windows Platform Bridges result in a heap of new apps coming to Windows Phone 10? In reality, I don’t think so. All we can do is wait. Windows 10 Mobile is coming in the fall. That’s months away and that is an eternity in “phone months.” Every day our Windows Phones are aging, getting slower and the battery life is getting shorter. There is nothing else on the platform right now to replace it with and that’s making people jump ship. If you want to stick with Windows Phone, all you can do is hurry up and wait.