Microsoft is once again going through a major transition. Earlier today, expected layoffs were announced, totaling 18,000 over the next year. Although in and of itself this is important news, perhaps the renewed focus on Windows Phone in particular is even bigger.
In an internal memo obtained by the Verge, details of Microsoft's realignment of mobile products is good news for those who are fans of the Windows Phone OS. In the memo it is revealed that Asha, Series 40, and Nokia X development is being put on hold, with teams going into "maintenance mode." The goal here is to keep those devices – and customers – happy with their mobiles but over the next 18 months, those lines are being killed off in favor of Windows Phone.
Additionally, the fate of MixRadio is now up in the air as Microsoft is reportedly attempting to sell off the service to a third-party. So far there is allegedly "strong interest" from potential buyers and like the aforementioned devices, MixRadio is now in "maintenance mode" too, meaning that service is no longer being developed.
Finally, Jo Harlow, who heads up the phone business under Microsoft devices, notes in the memo that they will shift "...flagship engineering efforts towards new flagship products timed with the next release of Windows and Windows Phone," referring to the Spring 2015 'Threshold' update. In the meantime, the company is focusing on the Lumia 930, Lumia 1520 and "and other high-end products that we will be announcing very soon."
This disclosure by Harlow mirrors Stephen Elop's earlier email, which stated that the company is planning to release "great breakthrough products in alignment with major milestones ahead from both the Windows team and the Applications and Services Group." Both flagship and entry level Lumias are still being developed in Finland.
Some of this news should not be surprising, but the abandonment of the Android-based Nokia X ought to make those who question Microsoft's mobile motives pleased.
In regards to MixRadio, although the service is highly admirable and impressive, the idea of it "merging" into Xbox Music is highly implausible. Neither the software nor the backend services are interchangeable and with significant overlap, there appears to be no benefit for Microsoft in redundancy – or, pardon the pun, the mixed messages it sends to consumers who purchase Lumias.
High-end Windows Phones so far have not earned their due in terms of market share for Microsoft. Although devices like the Lumia 1520, Lumia 1020 and the newer Lumia 930 are elegant, impressive and competitive, shoppers instead opt for entry-level Lumias. Microsoft desperately needs to turn that around, especially in the United States, and it looks like Microsoft is going to pick up the torch from Nokia and aggressively brave that path. The bit about "other high-end products that we will be announcing very soon" is also provoking as Windows Phone users evidently won't have to wait long for a new crown jewel.
Source: the Verge