Microsoft Reportedly Promises to Support Windows 10 Mobile For “Many Years”

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows Phones with 0 Comments

Microsoft Reportedly Promises to Support Windows 10 Mobile For "Many Years"

A leaked internal email allegedly written by Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson states that the software giant is committed to supporting the beleaguered Windows 10 Mobile for many years. This is good news for Windows phone fans, though the email also confirms that Microsoft will continue its exit from the phone market.

The internal email was published by Windows Central, and to date this is the only blog to have received the email. I’ll try to verify this story today, but I trust Daniel Rubino and his sources. In my opinion, this email is real.

According to Dan, the following email (this is only an excerpt) was sent to Microsoft executives and partners.

I understand that you are hearing concerns from certain partners about Microsoft’s commitment to the mobile space.

Let me be very clear: We are committed to deliver Windows 10 on mobile devices with small screen running ARM processors.

We are currently in development of our next generation products and I wanted to reconfirm our commitment to Windows 10 Mobile. We believe in this product’s value to business customers and it is our intention to support the Windows 10 Mobile platform for many years. We have a device roadmap to support that from Microsoft as well as our OEM partners who will also be selling an expanded lineup of phone devices based on this platform.

So let’s analyze these statements with a full understanding of Microsoft’s strategy.

I understand that you are hearing concerns from certain partners about Microsoft’s commitment to the mobile space.

It’s fair to say that the “Windows phone is dead” stories have reached a crescendo of sorts. But I want to be very clear here: Nothing has changed since last July, other than the passage of time, with Microsoft implementing its stated plan. Which is this: To stop selling its own phones and exit the smart phone market. I’ve argued before—and this email confirms this—that Windows phone isn’t “dead,” it’s a zombie OS, kept in market artificially by Microsoft. Point being, the strategy, such as it is, is about walking away and letting partners pick up the hardware manufacturing costs and risks.

But let’s move on.

Let me be very clear: We are committed to deliver Windows 10 on mobile devices with small screen running ARM processors.

Sure. I’m actually not sure anyone doubted Microsoft’s commitment to ARM, but there it is. What’s not stated here is that Windows 10 Mobile will also be brought to Intel processors. And that Windows 10 Mobile is just a SKU, or product edition, of Windows 10, one that is aimed at very small computing devices like phones and small tablets.

We are currently in development of our next generation products …

Products? Phones? Tablets? Something else? Mr. Myerson doesn’t say, but I think it’s fair to say—given the second half of this sentence, below—that he means “our next generation Windows 10 Mobile products. That suggests phones—the Lumia lineup is today the current generation of Windows 10 Mobile products—but of course there are theories that a coming Surface phone/device will be something other than a traditional phone.

… and I wanted to reconfirm our commitment to Windows 10 Mobile.

This is just a repeat of the previous assertion. So. Moving on.

We believe in this product’s value to business customers…

This is in many ways the smoking gun. Microsoft believes in the value of Windows 10 Mobile … to business customers. If you consider HP’s strategy with its Elite x3, you see its mirror here: This is a device that is aimed only at business customers. Myerson’s comment doesn’t mean that Windows 10 Mobile will only be for business customers, of course. But it does suggest that that is the focus.

…and it is our intention to support the Windows 10 Mobile platform for many years.

This is in many ways the ONLY major news in the entire email message: We knew that Microsoft was committed to supporting Windows 10 Mobile. But the question was whether we’d need to worry about Microsoft killing off Windows phone, Lumia, and/or Windows 10 Mobile every year at the close of its fiscal year (in July, in other words). This suggests—though of course Satya Nadella could override this at any moment—that Windows phone fans have nothing to worry about this summer per se.

We have a device roadmap to support that from Microsoft…

e.g. Microsoft’s devices will focus on business customers, as the “that” in that sentence refers to “this product’s value to business customers.”

… as well as our OEM partners who will also be selling an expanded lineup of phone devices based on this platform.

Microsoft’s OEM partners will be selling an expanded lineup of phone devices based on Windows 10 Mobile. That is, Microsoft won’t be. But it’s partners will be.

But … Microsoft won’t be … what?

Microsoft won’t be selling phones? Or Microsoft won’t be selling “an expanded lineup of phone devices,” meaning that it could be selling a limited lineup of phones? (Like a Surface phone?)

It could be either. And I think the hedge there is central to the conversation, because rumors about Surface phone are just rumors, and Microsoft still has not decided whether to make such a device. In fact, recent rumors about Microsoft pushing back the timeline for this miracle weapon suggest the software giant is quite unsure about how to proceed.

So let’s summarize here.

Terry Myerson’s email has simply reiterated what Microsoft has said is its strategy for Windows phone/Windows 10 Mobile, but with two additions: It will focus Windows 10 Mobile on businesses only going forward, and it plans to support this new mobile OS for many, many years.

That’s absolutely news. And it’s absolutely good news for Windows phone fans.

 

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