Late last night on 11 July 2017, Microsoft announced that it will be ending support for their Window Phone 8.1 mobile operating system. The mobile device software which was launched on 24 June 2014 was on a 36 month support cycle. Since then, the time period for support has passed and the company will no longer be actively improving the mobile operating system.
Is your device affected and what can you do?
If you are an owner of devices like Samsung Galaxy Ativ, Nokia Lumia 520, HTC One M8 or Nokia Lumia 1020 then you are one of the 80% Windows-powered phones owners who will be affected by this end of support. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all hope is lost for all Windows 8.1 phones.
Some of the affected phone can get a software upgrade which will have them running Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 Mobile isn’t compatible with every smartphone that is running Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft has provided a toll called Upgrade Adivsor which will help Windows Phone 8.1 users to get a software upgrade if their device is compatible.
Does this mean Microsoft is out of the smartphone industry?
With Mircosoft Windows 10 Mobile support ending in 2018 and Windows Phones like Nokia Lumias no longer being produced, its natural to think that Microsoft is giving up on the smartphone business. After spending $7.2 billion to acquire Nokia’s phone business, surely they saw some value in that acquisition.
The 2 year acquisition gave Microsoft a play ground of some sorts. The company managed to run some experiments by producing different devices aimed at different consumer e.g the Nokia Lumia 1020 which was geared towards photography enthusiasts. In those 2 years, Microsoft has managed to gather a large amount of data about how people responded to the devices and what they liked or didn’t like about them.
Microsoft isn’t out of the smartphone business but it is killing the Lumia brand so that it can make way for their own mobile device lineup which will feature their hardware and software unlike the Lumias which had Nokia hardware. You can expect this phone to be branded as a Surface phone following their Surface book and Surface laptop brands and also feature flagship features. Using the data they got from their Nokia acquisition, Microsoft now knows what works and what doesn’t.
Hopefully, the next smartphone device that Microsoft will make will deliver on expectations as some people felt that the experience on a Windows Phone wasn’t as seamless as they thought it would be. Given that the devices ran Windows, many expected the integration between their smartphone and their Windows laptop to feel like one experience but that wasn’t the case.
It’s not just Microsoft who benefited from the Nokia acquisition as Nokia itself got a 2 year relevance period. Without that, the big brand could have been forgotten in the smartphone industry but now it is back and better according to some. It’s interesting to see how the smartphone market will be like in the next couple of years considering right now that only 2 major mobile operating systems (Android & iOS) are still existing.