Windows Phone 8.1 is officially Dead as Microsoft end support for platform
Microsoft said yesterday that it was ending support for Windows Phone 8.1, one of the more notable updates to its troubled mobile operating system.
The writing has been on the wall for a while for Windows Phone, which hasn't gotten a meaningful update or any new products in two years. While Microsoft continues to support the successor to 8.1, Windows 10 Mobile, the move marks another sad chapter in the company's desperate struggle to gain relevancy in the smartphone market at a time when iPhones and phones running on Google's Android software dominate the world.
Windows Phone 8.1 was the fourth iteration of the mobile operating system and introduced the Cortana digital assistant to the phone. High-end devices like the Lumia 930 sported the then new software, and companies like HTC, Acer and Alcatel offered products using the platform.
But there was a lack of app support for phones running on the OS, which offered a unique tile-based user interface similar to the PC version of Windows, and consumers weren't interested either. The Windows 10 mobile update hasn't fared much better, and there's minimal support from device makers.
It’s not unusual to see companies pull the plug on software and hardware when it gets tired and old, and that exact thing is happening this week, as Microsoft says goodbye to devices that didn’t quite make the cut to Windows 10.
While the resurgence of Windows Phone didn’t quite take over the world the way Microsoft had hoped, Nokia, HTC, and a few other companies that offered quite a range of solid mobile devices over its time a few years back, including the very excellent and very experimental Lumia 1020, the phone with a 41 megapixel camera inside that would zoom into an image based on cropping the picture down, providing what was effectively a good compromise on digital zoom.
As nice as that phone was (even though it lacked expandable storage), it seems doomed to just being nice hardware with a severely outdated operating system, as Microsoft this week pulls the plug on Windows Phone 8.1, the operating system it ran.
Unfortunately, it did not make the cut of devices that could update to Windows 10, because while the Lumia 1520 is there, alongside devices like the Lumia 930, 640, 640XL, 730, 735, 830, and even budget 535 and 540, older models that boasted the Nokia name over that of Microsoft will not see a move to the new generation of Windows.
That’s bad news for the few Windows Phone users holding out for Microsoft to drive an update forward, letting them keep their hardware and still get the best of both worlds, and could potentially push them into the arms of Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android, if they haven’t made that jump already.
It’s been quite a while between releases here, and while the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL were all acceptable devices, they’re now almost two years old, and the app availability isn’t exactly strong on the Windows platform. The last company to release a Windows Phone was HP, and we didn’t hear much about the positives on that one, either.
Sadly, as strong as Windows is on the desktop and laptop side, not to mention the hybridisation of the tablet world, Windows Phone appears to be putting itself to bed. It remains to see what else may happen, but for now, it’s time to move on, folks.