If you ever tried Windows phones, you certainly know how awesome they’ve been. It’s true, in many regards comparing them with Android devices or iPhones didn’t make any sense, and the platform struggled with things that never allowed it to grow, like the lack of apps.
But despite all these setbacks, Windows phones somehow managed to survive, and given the current state of the platform, it’s surprising, to say the least, that some people are still using them these days.
More recently, however, Microsoft has pushed Windows Phone as a platform one step closer to its death: the company stopped selling devices in its Microsoft stores.
Microsoft has gradually removed Lumia devices from online and retail stores, and this week, the software giant pulled all models, with even phones from Alcatel and HP now being listed as out of stock. And of course, Microsoft has no intention to bring more units in stores, which pretty much means that the company is done selling Windows 10 Mobile devices.
If you want to buy a new Windows phone right now, although it’s really hard to find a reason why anyone wants to do this, your only chance is third-party retailers. Of course, many of these shops no longer have Windows phones in stocks either, and eBay and similar sites are more or less the only way to go.
By finally removing Windows phones from its stores, Microsoft has completed all but one step to leave its mobile platform behind.
Five-step retirement plan
First and foremost, the company’s latest flagship launched nearly two and a half years ago. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL debuted in October 2015 with Windows 10 Mobile, a mobile operating system which at that point didn’t seem to be finalized, but which Microsoft pushed to customers in a desperate attempt to remain relevant in the mobile race.
While other less popular models followed in early 2016, Lumia 950 XL was the last significant phone release from Microsoft and needless to say, many diehard fans purchased it not only because they loved the platform, but because they wanted to support the software giant in its mobile struggle.
Since then, Microsoft has treated Windows Phone hardcore fans with nothing but silence. Updates have been released at an inconsistent pace, bugs have been fixed painfully slow, and new Microsoft devices that would have helped Windows 10 Mobile stay close to iOS and Android rivals never arrived.
This was actually phase one, or the beginning of Microsoft’s plan of giving up on Windows phones, and the more time it passed living in this complete silence, the more obvious it was becoming that the software giant was giving up on mobile.
More evidence was provided when the firm started shipping new OS feature updates to a continuously shrinking number of devices, leaving more and more customers behind. This was phase 2.
With only a bunch of Windows phones getting Windows 10 Mobile updates, Microsoft proceeded to phase 3: retiring OS updates completely and sticking with security patches and small bug fixes that shipped only occasionally. Instead of a major OS release, Windows 10 Mobile devices received a feature2 update that brought almost nothing new, except for some small changes that consumers didn’t even need.
Microsoft eventually confirmed that no new features and devices were planned for Windows 10 Mobile, and needless to say, this was no surprise. It was just officially acknowledging that the first three phases were complete.
Phase 4 was started and finalized this week when Microsoft pulled Windows phones from the stores, leaving the few customers with no option to purchase new devices.
The final step, phase 5, will be touched in mid-2019 when Microsoft will stop shipping security patches for Windows 10 Mobile, officially pulling the smartphone platform and leaving it behind once and for all.
But right now, with four out of five phases complete, it’s pretty clear that staying with Windows phones is harder and harder. And this makes me wonder: if this isn’t the moment to abandon Windows Phone, then what is?