Windows Phone
Image Courtesy: TheDrum.com

Windows Phone is dead. Everybody knows that. There are still a lot of people who use Windows Phones as their daily drivers but Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 Mobile will not get any more features or hardware updates. So that makes the platform dead. But why did this happen? Why did an OS with an extremely fluid interface fail to an operating system which had a really sluggish user interface? Why did people choose a vulnerable operating system over Windows Phone? By the way, Windows Phone is still the most secure operating system. These are questions which are still present in the minds of every Windows Phone fan.

Microsoft recently announced that they will undergo a huge reorganization. Terry Myerson who was originally the Windows Chief will leave the company as a part of this reorganization. Myerson posted a farewell message on his LinkedIn profile where he also explained why Windows Phone failed in the market.

According to Myerson, the failure of Windows Phone could be streamlined to two main reasons. One was that they underestimated the Android business model and the other was that they built Windows Phone OS based on an older version of Windows specifically Windows CE which was not capable to be a full-fledged smartphone operating system. In case you don’t know, Windows CE was developed by Microsoft for Compact Embedded systems.

“Looking back at this phase of my career, my biggest learnings were that success requires a special composition of business model, user experience, and technology,” Myerson wrote in his post.

Terry Myerson
Image Courtesy: Wired.com

Why did Windows Phone fail?

Microsoft had a unique operating system that brought a fresh new look and experience but the business model which Android brought was much powerful and Microsoft couldn’t keep up with that. Well, actually Microsoft could keep up but they chose not to and by the time they realized their mistake, it was too late.

Another mistake was using the older and less capable Windows CE platform to develop an Operating System for a smartphone. Once, Microsoft was at the forefront of the smartphone business. That came to an end when Apple launched its iPhone in 2007 with a much-improved touch-friendly operating system which didn’t need a stylus for using it. iOS also brought a better web browsing experience to the mobile which is an irony by itself as Microsoft should be the one who should give a better web browser experience given its expertise in the field.

iOS also brought a good App Store which had Applications that can be downloaded by the users. Google’s Android came in 2008 but it wasn’t as polished. So it didn’t seem like a competitor at all. But Google started polishing their Android operating system by releasing different versions of the operating system every year. Each year, the newer version became more stable and a lot more features were added.

Google’s Android operating system was open source and developers were given full access to it. It was easier for developers to make apps for Android. Google also gave Android operating system to OEMs at a very cheap rate which is almost free. This was the business model that Google adopted. Small Chinese manufactures who didn’t have enough capital to make an OS for their own devices decided to stick with Google’s Android and it became popular in a small time.

Large players like Samsung used their own Operating systems for smartphones but they also tried Android and once they found that Android Smartphones were becoming more popular, they too decided to stick with Android.

Microsoft, on the other hand, was ready to give Windows Phone OS to manufacturers for a price. A price which didn’t seem to be fair at all. This kept Chinese manufacturers from adopting Windows Phone OS as they simply didn’t have the resources to buy a costly operating system.

iOS had a different scenario. Apple is a premium company and their iPhones were priced really high. There is a thing for luxury goods and people were simply drawn to iPhones. Developers also got more money when they made apps for iPhones. A good operating system, premium hardware, and great developer support enabled Apple to become a prominent smartphone manufacturer.

Microsoft had only Nokia, htc, Samsung and a couple of other manufacturers as their hardware partners. Due to the higher price tag of these smartphones (when compared to Android phones with similar specifications) people were more drawn to Android smartphones.

An honorary mention goes to Nokia, as their Lumia devices are still loved by millions of people all over the world. Nokia filled the holes Windows Phone OS had by making exclusive apps for their Lumia smartphones. The idea was great and with the awesome advertising done by Nokia, everything was going uphill until Microsoft became lazy enough to not focus on developing their software. Lumia devices despite sporting the best hardware were not equipped with a good software. Nokia lost in the smartphone game and was eventually bought by Microsoft. The rest is history.

Satya Nadella, the newly appointed CEO, promised a “Mobile first Cloud first” strategy but eventually settled with a Cloud first strategy. Much of these tragedies could have been eliminated if Terry Myerson, who was the Windows Chief, had realized his mistakes. We can say that his mistakes eventually led to him leaving the company.

This reorganization that Microsoft is undergoing can also be attributed to the mistakes that Microsoft took when they made the Windows Phone operating system. You can read more about the reorganization by clicking here.

  • Archangel

    So the simple answer is that Windows Mobile hit the skids because of incompetent asshats like Myerson didn’t understand the technical nor the business requirements of jumping into that space – his departure is long overdue

    • WPJ

      Exactly! I think his post read just that. Nostalgia and an emotional tear now and then but between the lines you read that; all the ways he talks about being unprepared for leadership and the “wow” factor that changing positions within the company had imposed on him. When you lead you know exactly where to go. He didn’t seem to know where to steer the ship, so the ship ultimately lost the race even though technically it was better prepared than the rest of the competition.

      • JohnW

        To be fair he had help in screwing up. It was obvious the future was mobile as soon as devices like the Touch Pro 2 came out and yet MS failed to either invest or invent. It looks like Tom’s contribution was to abandon his customer base repeatedly.

  • JohnW

    Well we see a repeat on the desktop? Windows is now one of the most expensive components in a PC especially at the low end.

    • Munchy

      no its not. my montherboard was 160 pounds a cheapo one 60-80 pounds, most cpus are arond 80-300 pounsds over 200 being the ones sold much, gpus are very expesive and cost way more than windows 10 os. i payed 40 pounds for one win 10 os and 25 for the other and thery are origional. windows is repeating the mobile issue, no apps for the start menu, forceing people to try edge and forceing browser users to not load the home pages they want. but expence is not one of them. hell i wish i could go back to the old model of paying 200 pounds every 3 years and not get updates that more offten than not break windows 10 but im paying next to nothing for windows 10.

      • JohnW

        Your numbers support my point. Legitimate Windows 10 Home Retail is £99 which is more than a cheap motherboard or processor. You can get hooky copies for less but that is hardly a fair comparison.

        • imaginarynumber

          But OEMs don’t purchase the Retail version.

          I have idea how much they pay but I very much doubt that the makers of a £200 laptop pay £100.

          • JohnW

            True but the prices for smaller OEMs aren’t that much cheaper. Look at the prebuilt NUC vendors for example. Bigger OEMs get prices roughly based on screen size, but then again they also pay less for the other components.

  • Cameron Bush

    The way I see it the failure was down to Windows Phone 10 being a buggy slow mess because of the lack of Nokia involvement. But also the buyout of Nokia which ended the period of Windows Phones flooding the market. I just don’t except the point about them being too expensive because they covered the flow to high end of the market perfectly. All I see is the price of all phones rocketing after the collapse of Windows Phone which would prove otherwise your original point.

  • pege63

    It was the MS software ppl that breake it down, the phone does NOT fail at all! Still rocks

  • Munchy

    for me it was tyhey didn’t make a good phone since the Lumia 930, apps was a huge issue when it came to you tube but worst here was microsoft rebooted windows 8.1 to 10 and in that process it took them officially 11 and 12 months to give me back a weekly calender view for the phone and a linked inbox option. that was unacceptable as I had these things in 8.1 before the forced windows 10 mobile updates. Also not a good idea to not release your own software like gestures beta when people actually loved it. Tip for microsoft, if you want people on android to buy your music on groove you should have allowed groove to see the sd card on the galaxy s7 and s7 edge cause that’s a fair few millions there your not giving access too. If apple or android offered pc gaming Id have left windows all together and that’s cause it takes them too long to make their software fully featured. skype is great now but still missing basic features like camera control lol. Every update I’m forced to read a tab with edge adverts. They forced ie to have a edge button and tried to remove my ie short cut on my task bar for many many months of updates. Edge doesn’t let you open a new tab to your default home page or one of your choosing like every other browser does and edge took 2 years after RELEASE TO BECOME VAIGLY USABLE LOL. I think with all this Microsoft force feeding to many people like me will be forced away. I took ie off my computer last week and that’s after 20 years of trying other browsers but always quickly jumping back to ie. 2 weeks have passed and I’m not missing ie. Thks Microsoft for forcing me away from what I loved. Your old browser. I would use edge if I could actually do the things I want and not what Microsoft want me to do..

    At oleast i get 100 gig of one drive space on my s7 edge insterad of 15gig on my microsft lumia 930 windows phone and the threaet of it being removed lol.

    And just to be clear, i love windows 10 desktop and the tiled menu system even if microsft wont give me a built in ability to make tiled icons look good. And windows 8.1 and the lumia 930 was my favorite mobile phone experience even after iphone4s, 5 and 6 and s7 edge. 8.1 windows mobile on a 930 was a great experience mostly. Shame shame shame.

  • satyan

    So, Terry is just paying for his mistakes, just a little too late?

  • imaginarynumber

    ” iOS also brought a better web browsing experience to the mobile”

    Really? When the iPhone was released I already had tabbed browsing via Opera, which shipped as the default browser on my T-Mobile Ameo.

    Touch Vs stylus? Windows CE was capable of supporting both, it just took HTC to implement it first (see: TouchFlo). HTC released the Touch (code name: Elf) before the iPhone. It allowed fleshy finger navigation as well as stylus/fingernail. Admittedly, given the small screen size there were times when you needed to use the stylus for certain tasks. Other than as a reset tool, I cannot recall using the stylus on my last Windows Mobile handset, the HTC Touch Pro, which shipped with HTC Sense and supported finger scrolling and so on.

    “Microsoft was at the forefront of the smartphone business. That came to an end when Apple launched its iPhone in 2007”

    No it didn’t. The iphone didn’t start outselling WM until late 2009. Between 2008 and 2009, WM saw a 4% decline and although the iphone was gaining traction, it was still being outsold by RIM (who were also seeing growth).

    Personally I am not convinced that the OEM licencing charges were the issue. How much were they $15? That is only slightly more than the Android tax that MS started hitting OEMs with. Perhaps a bigger problems was the inability for OEMs to differentiate themselves on Windows Phone. MS wanted a unified customer experience and would not allow OEMs to tweak things too much. Additionally in the early days, the minimum spec requirements prevented budget phones from being released.

    Ultimately, as the provider of the best selling touch based OS, MS took their eye off the ball. It was their game to lose.

    As a Windows 10 Mobile user, I have become accustomed to not having the latest OMG/Amazeballs apps. I don’t really hold MS responsible for the fact that people don’t think that Windows phones are kool enough to bother writing apps for. I do however take umbrage at the fact that MS can’t be bothered to update W10m apps on phones that THEY were selling a year ago. One advice from MS, I tried to download the Microsoft Authenticator app the other day so that I could set up 2FA on my Office 356 account, only to discover that the app is currently unavailable.

    One of my (many) character flaws is optimistic/misguided loyalty. I keep telling myself that Andromeda will be released any day now so I will hang on to my Lumia 950 for as long as possible. Perhaps I should just jump ship now, buy an Android, cancel my MS subscriptions and load Linux on to my PC.

    • Dan Alexandru

      … And on top of everything .. when the hell did they do any advertising for windows phones? If they did it wasn’t an efficient advertising and this killed the momentum they needed for a good start. I didn’t even know a windows phone was available until 2016 and there are many million other android phone users around the world who only know about android and ios phones.

    • Charlie Coogan

      I still use all ZUNEs + Lumia 810 and Lumia 1020!
      No needed overprice IPhone or Sumsone…

  • Carlthewelder

    Ugh, this makes me so sad. I LOVE my windowsphone (Lumia 735). I’ve had all three types of phones and this OS is by far my favorite. I’ll keep it till it dies or Verizon stops supporting it. There are only a couple of apps I regret I can’t get but as long as I can still use the calendar and people app, I’ll hang on till the bitter end. It’s really a shame… such an attractive and well designed OS. And, of course I’m an Xbox One buyer and well… here we go again.