Is Microsoft signalling change in the software market?

Caroline Scotter Mainprize | October 10, 2017

Is the end of the road for the Windows phone the start of something entirely new in the global software market? In an announcement so low key as to be almost undetectable to the human ear, Microsoft has snuck out the news that it is abandoning further development of the Windows phone.

While Microsoft Operating Systems chief Joe Belfiore has reassured users on Twitter that Microsoft will continue to support the platform – ‘bug fixes, security updates etc.’ – he has confirmed that developing new features and hardware ‘aren’t the focus’.

Apparently it was difficult to persuade app developers to support the format in addition to IoS and Android. As Microsoft was a late entrant to the mobile phone market, with currently only 0.3% market share, this is perhaps not a surprise. But with Bill Gates and Joe Belfiore both switching to Android phones, it does raise questions about the market in the future.

Will we see something similar to the great VHS vs Betamax format war of the 1980s?

Connoisseurs apparently preferred Betamax, but it lost out to the popular appeal of VHS. If Microsoft is apparently putting its weight behind Android, should Apple be worried?

Will the decision have implications for the Microsoft Surface Pro and tablet software?

Could they become Android-based?

In fact, rather than continuing down the Windows 10 route of trying to make business and office software look as if it is app-based, could Microsoft abandon the operating system altogether, and just make Android versions of its popular software, such as Word and PowerPoint?

There are no immediate implications for Windows phone users. The phones will continue to work, and they will continue to be supported by Microsoft. But this could be the start of a major realignment in the software market. Whether you’re an avid Android supporter or an Apple aficionado, it is worth paying attention.