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Is Microsoft Giving Up on Windows Phones?

windows phone microsoft

It’s absolutely no secret that the Windows phone has not been doing very well. In fact, it’s estimated that Windows devices make up roughly 3% of the entire smartphone market, with Apple and Android absolutely stomping the heck out of the Lumia devices. And it’s no wonder, between a flailing app store and the lack of a flagship device to draw anyone to Windows phones, most people are turning to Android or Apple instead.

With the announcement of Windows 10, it was starting to look like Windows phones might actually become relevant. From what I’ve read, Microsoft seems to be building an almost Apple-like ecosystem where users can flow work and tasks seamlessly from PC to tablet to phone and back again. Continuum, the functionality is called, and when I read about it I actually entertained the notion of getting a Windows Phone when my PC upgrades. But, now it’s looking like Windows is backpedaling on the whole smartphone business.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it would be laying off around 7,800 people–all in the smartphone sector which Microsoft purchased from Nokia last year. Microsoft even wrote off the $7 billion purchase and said it wanted to “sharpen focus” and “restructure” the phone business. Here’s an excerpt from the release that current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella published on Wednesday (emphasis mine):

“I am committed to our first-party devices including phones. However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention. We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.

In the near term, we will run a more effective phone portfolio, with better products and speed to market given the recently formed Windows and Devices Group. We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software…”  read the full statement here

On one hand, the mention of flagship devices is pretty exciting–Microsoft has been promising such a phone for quite a while, and fans of Windows Phones have been calling for it. On the other hand, laying off 7,800 people, talking about “hard decisions” and ending a standalone smartphone business sounds suspiciously like Microsoft sort of throwing in the towel. While I personally doubt the Continuum idea will work without a smartphone as part of the ecosystem, Microsoft seems to be finally admitting that Google won that battle and has been focusing more and more on services instead of hardware.

In fact, the primary thing that really made me consider getting a Windows phone was Cortana, the sassy assistant on the Windows platform. But, rumor has it that Cortana should be available for Android soon, and she’ll also be part of Windows 10 devices. In fact, most of Microsoft’s apps can be found on Android devices and quite a few on iOS as well.

I doubt that Microsoft is going to 100% give up on Windows Phones (or, at least, I kind of hope they don’t) but things certainly aren’t looking good.

So, for those of you who have a Windows Phone, tell me… why do you like it? Is the OS as terrible as everyone says? I have friends who swear by it, but I just can’t bring myself to learn yet another platform. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts!