Microsoft has all but abandoned development of Windows Mobile, according to the executive once tasked with overseeing the development of the company’s wireless platform.
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in the company’s Operating Systems Group, tweeted yesterday that the software giant will provide support for its mobile OS, but won’t aggressively build out new offerings or devices.
“Of course we’ll continue to support the platform.. bug fixes, security updates, etc.,” Belfiore tweeted when asked whether Microsoft has plans regarding the operating system, which has languished as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS have thrived. “But building new features/hw aren’t the focus.”
Belfiore added that even he has moved on from Windows Mobile to Android due to a lack of apps and limited device options using his company’s platform.
“As an individual end-user, I switched platforms for the app/hw diversity,” he tweeted. “We will support those users too! Choose what’s best 4 u.”
Belfiore’s comments are particularly noteworthy because he had long been the face of Microsoft’s mobile ambitions. FierceWireless named him as a “rising star in wireless” in 2011, describing him as “Microsoft’s go-to guy” in touting the company’s mobile operating system compared to rival platforms.
Despite Microsoft’s ambitious efforts, though, Windows was never able to gain any significant momentum in the worldwide market of smartphone platforms. The operating system failed to find much of an audience in the United States, and Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported last year that Windows Phone’s market share had fallen below 5% in some key European markets in which the platform had just begun to establish a bit of a toehold.
In July 2016, IHS Technology said Microsoft had practically admitted defeat in the smartphone market, and was moving resources back toward the PC version of the OS. The mobile version has never really caught on with developers, leaving users as something of second class citizens when it comes to apps.
“We have tried VERY HARD to incent app devs,” Belfiore conceded via Twitter Sunday. “Paid money.. wrote apps 4 them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest.”