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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2644

The End of Windows 10 Mobile

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Microsoft, the software giant, has finally done away with its smartphone ambition, after years of struggles to leave an indelible footprint in the fiercely competitive mobile phone landscape.

In a series of ambiguous tweets, Joe Belfiore, the head of Windows 10, said that developing new features and hardware for mobile operating system was no longer the focus of the company. It’s crystal clear, by reading between the lines, of course, that Microsoft has completely abandoned the mobile operating system, after all.

Microsoft, when Steve Ballmer was the CEO, made a catalogue of blunders before his abrupt departure, after being at the helm for decades; the gasping, intense pursuit of a mobile operating system at the expense of Windows desktop operating system was one of them – a costly one, especially when it abandoned the loss making Nokia phone development; it was a miscalculation on an epic scale, indeed, based on a delusional ambition – to take on Apple iOS and Google’s Android.

The admission by Bill Gates two weeks ago that he had already switched to an Android phone may have been the last straw for the Windows mobile division. Even the head of Windows 10 admitted that he too had switched to Android. The pair inadvertently provides the Android operating system with a massive PR boost, implying that it is the better of the two existing players – iOS from Apple and Android from Google.

HP, a handset maker, meanwhile, confirmed that it would stop making mobile phones, running on Windows mobile operating system.

The challenges before the Windows mobile division has been steadily mounting in recent years: first of all, they have to increase the market share, from just 0.03%, at least to a single digit; the app landscape is almost barren, as developers have got cold feet about the long term survival of the operating system, despite them being offered incentives by Microsoft to do so; from customers’ point of view, meanwhile, the operating system was not as good as Android or iOS.

Having abandoned the mobile ambition, Microsoft appeared to be focusing on the things that had been overlooked, while being caught up in the stampede to excel in mobile phone market. As part of the new strategy, Mr Belfiore said that they were releasing a test version of Microsoft Edge, the web browser, for both Android and Apple devices.

If Mr Belfiore, being the Windows 10 chief, could extend the same drive – and energy – to improve the existing Windows 10 operating system while giving consumers the feel that they used to have, it wold be a step in the right direction, both for consumers and of course, Microsoft, in the long run.

When Microsoft chased the mirage of a mobile operating system, it lost its focus on Windows operating system. There are still a significant number of people who love to use a desktop or a laptop for their regular computer based activities; it may be far from perfect, but used be user-friendly on many fronts.

The failure of Microsoft to getting its priorities right, potentially cost the company a fortune: the company was forced to give its Windows 10 operating system for free, as consumers lost their desire to upgrade the operating system from an existing version to a new one; its new browser, Edge, could not compete with Google’s Chrome, despite Microsoft’s claim about it being the faster of the two; Cortona, Windows equivalent of Siri, meanwhile, is losing its significance, especially on desktops and laptops, as it does not respond fast enough to be a credible alternative to typing.

In the late 90’s there was a scramble to upgrade Windows operating system as soon as it was released on a grand scale with Bill Gates at the centre of the event. That trend doesn’t exit any more. Only when a computer struggle to load, do we realize the arrival of an update for Windows – a far cry from what things used to be.

On a positive note, Microsoft still has brilliant engineers at its disposal. They just need a spark from the top layer of the company in the form of a unique vision to take the company along the right path, even if it is bumpy at present. In this context, we can only hope Microsoft will deal with its browser, Edge, and Windows operating system as priorities in order to rectify the past mistakes – and to regain its lost jewel in the software crown.

- Asian Tribune -

The End of Windows 10 Mobile
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