While Windows Phone 8/8.1 was relatively successful with even 10-15% market share in some markets, a number of unfortunate decisions eventually pulled the platform down.
Windows 8 era
• Until Windows 8.1 there were no Universal APIs, Desktop was WinRT, Phone was Silverlight
• Even with Windows 8.1 the converging APIs were not fully converged, not truly Universal
• Though even if they were, the way Store apps were handled on the Desktop was conceptually wrong and resulted in only a tiny amount of users actually using them
• After the Lumia x30 series, Microsoft just lost their commitment on the hardware front
• There was no real x40 series just minor x35 updates to the mid-low end models and the 640 on it’s own representing that generation
• Only a small subset of WP8 phones got the update, leaving most of the users behind
• The x50 generation arrived with 950, 650, 550, but no 450 (budget) or 750/850 (“affordable flagship”)
Ever since Windows 10 (and its Mobile counterpart) was released, people had a hope, that the development of the mobile OS will become much simpler, adding new features that span across a wide range a devices will be possible, and thanks to the truly Universal Windows Platform, the dreaded app-gap can close finally and everything will be fine. But somehow, for some reason this doesn’t quite seem to be the case with Windows 10 Mobile, as we can see that while the Desktop is about to get a pretty big update in September, the Mobile only gets bug fixes and no new features…
So where does this leave us? What’s next?
Windows on ARM and Cellular PCs
Microsoft is working hard with Qualcomm and its OEM partners to bring Windows on ARM into life, and in parallel to that, they are also working on bringing built-in support for LTE modems in so called “Cellular PCs”. But all these efforts are only coming for PCs – Ultrabooks, Convertibles, 2-in-1s, Tablets… but not Phones, not in the first wave at least.
Composable Shell and Fluent Design System
Microsoft is also working on their recently announced Fluent Design System, which in the first wave will only include a number of new design elements like Parallax, Reveal, Acrylic Material, Connected Animations, etc… but later it will probably play a key role in bringing the Composable Shell alive. This new Shell will replace the good ol’ Desktop and will be part of the Universal Windows Platform, or OneCore instead, spanning across many device types like desktops with multiple displays, laptops, tablets, phones and even more exotic devices like the Xbox or Mixed Reality headsets. It’s basically the next step in Microsoft’s efforts to converge these systems.
As you can see, for the “what’s next” question there is no clear, official answer, but not even too much rumor at this moment. No one really knows what Microsoft is planning in the mobile space as their next step, but I’m pretty sure they do have a plan and we will see them return to this category in the near future.