Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 is dead, but the future of Windows 10 Mobile remains

Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows Phone 8.1, announcing an update to all Windows Phone 8-powered smartphones. The operating system has come up with new features including digital assistant Cortana and new notification system

Microsoft has pulled the plug on Windows Phone 8.1 support, ending the Windows Phone era. The demise of Windows Phone marked Microsoft’s move toward Windows 10 Mobile last year, despite the lack of new hardware.

Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8.1 about three years ago as an update to any smartphone running Windows Phone 8. The operating system came with a number of new features, including digital assistant Cortana, and was considered Microsoft’s best bet to compete with iOS and Android. However, the Redmond-based software giant has clearly failed to compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, which currently controls about 99.6 percent of smartphones.

According to Aduplex, only 20 percent of all Windows Phones are running the latest Windows 10 Mobile, while about 80 percent of devices are still stuck with Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, or Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft continues to support Windows 10 Mobile and is actively launching new preview versions for Windows Insider. Since Satya Nadela took over as CEO, Microsoft has changed its smartphone approach by adopting a multi-device strategy. The company almost conceded defeat and opened its core apps on competing platforms. Although Microsoft has managed to attract mobile users through Office and other productivity applications, the company has yet to elaborate on the future of Windows on mobile.

Neither Microsoft nor its partners have unveiled any new devices in the recent past, and plans for Surface-branded smartphones don’t seem to be coming together either. With the end of support for Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft is removing many users, but it also shows that the future of Windows 10 is about a unified operating system under the umbrella.

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