Microsoft has officially ended support for its older Windows Phone 8 operating system, almost 4 years after it purchased Nokia’s phone business (Nokia Devices, Lumia, patents) for a total amount of $ 2.7 billion in 2013. As per this support thread, Windows 8.1 will effectively become an unsupported service starting July 11th; this date was fixed in October last year. The development was first reported by The Verge.
It is not clear, what happens to the newer Windows 10 Mobile version, but Windows 10 also has a shelf life, while Microsoft hasn’t made any significant announcements about its Phone segment yet. Last was the Windows 10 Mobile Creators update in April.
What this means for Windows users
73.9% of Windows Phone users still use Windows Phone 8.1, while another 4.2% use Windows Phone 8.0, as per this AdDuplex Windows Device Statistics Report, June 2017 (h/t: The Verge). These users will not receive any more security patches fixes, software/firmware updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. Many popular apps have also ended support for Windows 8 versions. In this year alone, two popular messaging apps including WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger announced that it will end support for Windows 8.0 and 8.1. Last year, Skype also ended support for Windows Phone 8.0 and 8.1. However, some of these services still run on Windows 10; WhatsApp issued updates on Windows Phone 10 in February this year.
Nokia purcahse never went well for Microsoft
Windows Phone Devices currently hold less than 3% of the marker as per NetMarketShare data. It has even fallen to below 1% in 2016. Microsoft’s troubles with its Nokia Devices purchase started to show within a year. The company had killed most Nokia’s Feature phone brands including, Asha and Series 40 and smartphone brand Nokia X in July 2014. It shifted focus on the low to mid-end smartphones with new Windows Phone nametag. Note that Microsoft had sold Nokia’s feature phone segment to FIH Mobile (Foxconn subsidiary) in 2016.
Along with brand rejigs, Microsoft also laid off over 12,500 employees at Nokia Devices and Services businesses in 2014 when it decided to phase out feature phones.
Microsoft then made few more tweaks to its phone business. It shut down Nokia Store in the first half of 2015 and migrate users to the Opera Mobile Store instead. However, the company’s efforts with its Windows Phone business didn’t quite catch up in the market. Microsoft reported a $3.19 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2015 (Q4 FY15). This was mostly due to the write off of Nokia’s $7.5 billion phone hardware business, and $780 million in restructuring expenses.
Lumia brand did not receive an upgrade since Oct ‘15
There were no new device launches from Microsoft after the Lumia 650 launch in February 2016. The last high-end model was the Lumia 950 and 950XL in 2015. Currently, Microsoft lists 29 Lumia devices for sale on its website. However, Nokia has decided to give the smartphone market a second shot: Nokia had announced new devices in this year a strategic agreement with HMD Global for selling Nokia branded mobile phones and tablets in countries including India.