Microsoft Admits Defeat On Smartphones

John Lister's picture

Microsoft says it won't add any new features or devices for Windows 10 Mobile. It's a sign that hopes Windows 10 would revive the company's smartphone presence have largely failed.

While what was then called Windows Mobile was once technically the most common smartphone operating system, it faded behind Apple's iOS and Google's Android as smartphones became more widely used. The attempt to relaunch under "Windows Phone" failed to make a breakthrough, and the system fell well under a one percent market share. The most recent figures suggest just one in every three thousand phones runs the system.

Smartphone-Desktop Links Made No Difference

The last roll of the dice was the launch of Windows 10 Mobile alongside its desktop counterpart. The idea was to remove barriers between desktop and smartphones: in particular, to make it easier for developers to make apps that worked smoothly on computers, tablets and phones without complicated recoding.

Windows 10 even include a feature named Continuum that meant - in theory at least - users could simply plug in or wirelessly connect their Windows phone to a keyboard, mouse and monitor and use it exactly as if it were a Windows desktop PC.

Joe Belfiore, who oversees Windows 10 for Microsoft, has now said the company will no longer focus on the system. He also said he has personally switched to using an Android phone, a change that's also been made recently by Bill Gates. (Source:

Windows 10 Mobile: Not Enough Apps

According to Belfiore, Microsoft failed to get enough developers to make Windows versions of their apps, despite offering financial incentives and even helping them rewrite code. (Source:

It appears to be something of a chicken and egg situation, with developers unwilling to put resources into a system with few users, and the lack of compatible apps among the reason so few people used the system.

Belfiore says that though there'll be no new features or Microsoft-made handsets, the company will continue to issue bug fixes and security patches.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you ever used Windows on a phone and do you know anyone else who did? What could Microsoft have done differently to make mobile Windows a success? Is there any need for a Windows-based smartphone system when apps such as Office are available on iOS and Android?

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Dennis Faas's picture

That's saying a lot - if Bill Gates uses Android!

I have a friend who went from an iPhone 5 to a Windows Phone, with high hopes that apps would easily interface with his Windows 2012 / 2016 Server - but in the end that never happened. It turns out that there were more apps that did the same job on Android than there were for Windows Mobile. That aside, his experience with the phone was horrendous. Microsoft Edge was the only browser he could use and it was brutal. The entire system was extremely laggy and would crash often. He finally purchased an Android phone (after some coaching from myself) and has not looked back since!

ajmdierick_5110's picture

The switch from a Nokia phone to a Lumia with Windows mobile was for me a logical step. The argument "more apps" is nonsense. I do not need X foto's apps, just one. And the Here app to find my way on the road is excellent as well (and free). Yes it is based on the "old" Nokia app. Even the Google maps app works as desired. The same is true for a lot of functional request from me as a user, I do not need x apps, just one to do the task.
Furthermore the choice for a replacement is difficult. IOS and Apple is expensive, Android has a security issue. A study from the Dutch consumer organisation Consumentenbond shows that 80 % of Android phones lack security updates (although they are available!) Result of "funny" behavior of the manufacturers, Samsung as an example. Most of those devices are when I buy them in the phone shop already levels behind with security updates. When you are lucky you will have a Android 5 or 6 version, where Google is already issuing Android level 8. Excuses stated are that the Android manufacturers have put there own layers on top of the standard OS, that prevents the updates.
My Windows phone is updated with the same version as the comparable PC version, updated a few days ago.
And I never noticed the laggy crashing behaviour as explaned by Dennis.

imallett_8441's picture

I really liked my Lumia running Windows 10. The final killer though, was the absence of banking apps. Mobile banking is such a part of modern life that I had to switch to Android to access my bank accounts on the move. Windows simply couldn't get my bank to use their platform. Shame!

ajmdierick_5110's picture

In the Netherlands ING Bank still has a working Windows banking App, ABN AMRO just stopped with the app, BUT all functionality is accessable via Edge (i.e. an Internet link). And to be honest: I only need two functions on the road: what's my account status (i.e. how much money can I spend when using PIN Payments) and if there is not enough on the running account I can transfer from my savings account. And even ABN AMRO states that those two are the most used functions!

tonyy@bell's picture

I bought a Windows 10 Lumia phone thinking that with Windows 10 linking to my desktop and home server would be easier. Why is there not an MS app that allows me to browse my network as easily as using a laptop? (There are apps for one URL at a time, but I have many shares.)

Like another of your respondents it's actually harder!! That is unless you can "Use the Cloud Luke" but an upload speed of 200kbs when I want to move large files prohibits this, its why I have a server. I have to resort to a USB tether just like the Android phones.

Not only that using the phone as a phone is much less intuitive. Simply adding a contact from an incoming call without cutting and pasting / retyping the number - the method when I found it, looks wrong but magically adds the number. However I still do not know how to add a new phone number to an existing contact without cut and paste. Cannot put contacts back on SIM. Contacts mixed up with Outlook. When using the phone you have to switch to the people app to ring a contact! The worst was trying to send a text, after failing for a few months and using another phone instead. I finally discovered that Skype had assumed the "Message" role and so prevented texts via the network. Once switched off texts are now easy, but again from the message app and not the phone app.

The one benefit has been stability, in a year the phone has updated and kept itself secure. In the same period 2 of the family's Android phones have needed "resetting" to fix a fault.

Dennis Faas's picture

If you own an Android phone and want to browse network shares, you can use Total Commander with the SMB plugin. As far as I can see, Total Commander is also available for Windows phones but not sure if they have the SMB plugin for Windows phones.

tonyy@bell's picture

Thanks Dennis,

I downloaded the windows 10 Phone version of the app to have a look at and my impression so far is that this is easier to use than the standard Microsoft file explorer.

Plug-ins are not possible with Windows Phone - comment in release notes. The following plug-in functionality is included: FTP, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, LAN, WebDav and Peer to Peer Wi-Fi. Release notes indicate that functionality was similar to Android on release, but The Android version is being more actively developed.

However I will have to wait until I get home to try it out.

Thanks again for the tip.