Windows Phone 8.1 may seem like a distant memory in the mobile space, being released three years ago, but it remains very much relevant for many Windows smartphone users. Nearly three in four Windows smartphones run this version of the tiled operating system, despite the fact that Microsoft replaced it with Windows 10 Mobile over a year ago.
Why is this a problem? Well, Microsoft is getting ready to end mainstream support, which will leave Windows Phone 8.1 users without updates starting July 11. Making things worse is the fact that Windows 10 Mobile is not available to every smartphone that can run Windows Phone 8.1.
There are lots of new features in iOS 11 that will make the operating system more usable on iPhones and iPads. Apple has not previewed all of them at WWDC 2017 though, with one of the lesser-known additions being Wi-Fi sharing.
Normally, when you have guests who want to use your Wi-Fi you have to tell them the password so they can connect to the network. However, for iOS 11 users, the Wi-Fi sharing functionality removes this step from the process, letting you wirelessly send the password to their iPhones and iPads. How does it work?
Welcoming the new year with a trumpet of doom, WhatsApp is bringing misery to many users. If you're using old versions of iOS, Android or -- heaven forbid -- Windows Phone 7, Facebook's popular messaging tool no longer works.
There is a brief stay of execution for anyone still packing a BlackBerry, but as of June 30 these will also be cut off. WhatsApp says that "BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40 and Nokia Symbian S60" will stop working by the middle of the year, but it is the hundreds of thousands of Android and iOS users that will be hardest hit.
I laughed so hard and so often at IDC's smartphone forecast, my response took nine days to write -- okay, to even start it. The future isn't my chuckable -- that data looks reasonably believable enough -- but the past. Because 2016 was supposed to be the year that Microsoft's mobile OS rose from the ashes of Symbian to surpass iOS and to challenge Android.
In 2011, IDC forecast that Windows Phone global smartphone OS market share would top 20 percent in 2015. The analyst firm reiterated the platform's No. 2 status for 2016 in 2012 as well. Not that I ever believed the ridiculous forecasts, writing: "If Windows Phone is No. 2 by 2015, I'll kiss Steve Ballmer's feet" and "If Windows Phone is No. 2 by 2016, I'll clean Steve Ballmer's toilet". The CEO's later retirement let me lose from those obligations had I been wrong. I was confident in my analysis being truer.
Windows does not seem to have a future in the smartphone market, as the vast majority of consumers opt for either Android or iPhone. It is a sad state of affairs, but there is little that Microsoft and its partners can do now to turn things around. Judging by the software giant's most-recent press events, it seems that it has stopped trying to compete.
And this is reflected in the latest quarterly figures from Strategy Analytics. The report, which analyzes smartphone shipments in Q3 2016, puts Windows under the "Others" category, a place reserved for the least-popular platforms that only a handful of consumers are invested in.
Windows continues to lose ground to Android and iOS in the smartphone market, according to a new report from Gartner. Driven by the poor performance of the Lumia line, its share dropped to just 0.6 percent in Q2 2016, down from 2.5 percent a year ago.
Microsoft is the largest platform vendor, selling over 90 percent of the smartphones that run Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, so its performance has a direct impact on Windows' share in this market. And, since in Q2 2016 it only sold 1.2 million Lumia devices, it dealt the platform yet another blow.
With the release of Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft's support for Windows Phone is gradually starting to die off. We already knew that Windows Phone support for Skype was coming to an end, but now we know more.
Microsoft has now announced that as well as ending support for Skype on Windows Phone in October, come 'early 2017' the apps will simply stop working. And it's all thanks to a move to the cloud.
Let's be honest, folks -- Windows 10 Mobile is not a popular phone operating system. Compared to Android and iOS, Microsoft's OS is largely insignificant. In fact, many people -- including my colleague Mihăiță Bamburic -- consider it a dead platform without a future.
Today, however, Windows 10 Mobile gets a significant app, showing that maybe it isn't dead after all -- Starbucks. While you may not view it as a big deal, many people depend on the coffee chain's app to pay for drinks and find locations. The fact that Starbucks put resources towards the app should make Microsoft fans very happy.
Windows Phone was a terrible experiment that never got off the ground. Microsoft's mobile operating system was never popular with developers, nor did many consumers care about it. With that said, some of the company's most loyal fans did embrace it, however. Not to mention, due to low prices, a small number of unknowing budget-hunters bought the much maligned phones too.
Fast forward to today, and Microsoft has moved on to Windows 10 Mobile. Sadly, its newest mobile push is not doing well either, but I digress. As a final slap in the face to users that own Windows Phones that cannot be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft is killing Skype support for the platform.
Like many other companies, PayPal is questioning the value of investing time and money in Windows Phone -- or Windows 10 Mobile, if you prefer. As of 30 June, the PayPal app for Windows Phone will be no more.
At the same time, the company is also dropping the apps for Blackberry and Amazon Fire OS. PayPal says that users will have to rely on the mobile website as it focuses "resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers".
After the sale of its feature phone business last week, Microsoft is making further structuring changes. Announcing the "additional step of streamlining our smartphone hardware business" Terry Myerson says that up to 1,850 jobs could be impacted, with the vast majority of these (1,350) being in Finland.
He also says that the company will continue "develop great new devices", no doubt fueling rumors of the highly-anticipated Surface Phone. Microsoft recognizes that its success with phones have been "limited", and Myerson's memo to employees reiterates the company’s commitment to the Windows platform, and Windows 10 in particular.
Global smartphone sales figures published by Gartner show that Windows-based devices have a market share of just 0.7 percent. The latest figures cover the first quarter of 2016 and reveal that fewer than 2.4 million handsets with Microsoft's OS installed were sold.
This is a dramatic drop from the first quarter of 2015. A year ago the numbers were hardly earth-shattering, but with a 2.5 percent market share they were decidedly healthier than right now. While Windows Phone continues to drop like a stone, Android's seemingly unstoppable rise continues, with Google increasing its market share from 78.88 percent a year ago to 84.1 percent in Q1 2016. Apple suffered a drop to 14.8 percent.
The Windows Phone landscape has evolved at a slow pace in the past three years, and the list of the ten most popular smartphones running the tiled operating system is proof of that. Since July 2013 Lumia 520 has held the top spot in the charts, taking Lumia 920's crown just a few months after being introduced. But, fast forward to today and we finally have a new king.
Before you get too excited and think that we finally have some major changes at the top you should know that Windows Phones appeal mainly to folks who shop in the low-end segment of the market. As such, the smartphone that follows Lumia 520 at the top of the pack is also an entry-level handset.
It is hard to take Windows 10 Mobile seriously when Microsoft announces sales of just 2.3 million Lumias in a whole quarter. If you ever thought that the platform can actually be competitive in today's market, now is the time to wake up. This year, smartphones sales are expected to reach 1.5 billion units. If Microsoft manages to move 10 million Lumias in 2016, Windows 10 Mobile's market share would likely be around the one percent mark.
Microsoft is not the only Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile vendor, but it is the largest by far. It sells about 90 percent of the smartphones running the tiled operating system, so its performance has a major impact on the platform's popularity.
Windows Phone has been dead for some time now. I knew it. The world knew it. Dogs knew it. The only people that were seemingly unaware were those that pledged allegiance to Microsoft. You know who they are -- those men and women that some call "fanboys".
Even the journalism community has them. Folks like Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley are unapologetic fans of Microsoft. While Thurrott has long since abandoned the horrific Windows Phone platform, Foley has been one of the few holdouts. Today, she announces that she -- Microsoft's biggest fan -- is choosing the Linux-based Android instead. If this doesn't signal the death of Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile, I don't know what does.