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5 reasons why Microsoft canceling 'Project Andromeda' was the right choice

Andromeda Cat
Andromeda Cat (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Despite some ingenious concepts and ideas, Microsoft's mobile ambitions have always been controversial, uphill battles. In our latest report, we detailed one such attempt under the name 'Project Andromeda.' The idea was killed over sometime in late 2018, but parts of it live on in the current Android-driven Surface Duo line of devices, and even in Windows 11.

Putting my personal feelings aside (I'd always prefer to use a native Microsoft OS instead of Android or iOS), canceling the project was the correct decision.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Behind schedule, and failed to deliver

File this under poor project management, but from what we have reported in the past, Andromeda was canned because it was way behind schedule and not hitting project milestones.

If you ever worked for a major company and oversaw a project that was not delivering the results you were tasked with producing, well, that's a dilemma. Companies have to think about and plan budgets, timeframes, coordination with hardware manufacturing, and even marketing. If everyone is waiting for the OS to be done and you can't deliver it, at some point, senior leadership needs to step in and make some tough decisions.

Yes, it's a lame reason, but ultimately, Andromeda failed to deliver the results. This issue seems to be an ongoing problem with Microsoft, whether it's Core OS, Andromeda, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows File System (WinFS), Windows 10X, or even "micro" OSes like on Microsoft Band.

Microsoft has an endemic problem creating and maintaining operating systems that are not proper x86 Windows. And that's technically another hidden reason: Would Microsoft have maintained and stuck with Andromeda OS?

Let's also not forget that the entire UI would be supplanted by 'Sun Valley' and Windows 11 just a few short years later. That means Microsoft would have had to redesign it all at some point.

Tl;dr: The OS didn't work.

2. Not the right time: Windows 10 Mobile was dead

Lumia 520

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

In late 2017, we were already reporting on the sad state of crowd-funded Windows phones for 2018. The timing for Andromeda was just off. Had the project started in 2013, maybe things could have been different, but in 2018 this was, without question, the nadir of Microsoft's mobile OS ambitions.

The heyday of Windows Phone was years in the past at this point.

Indeed, the best-selling Windows Phone was in 2014 with the $99 Lumia 520. Windows Phone never did well in the premium markets despite some headline-worthy (and fan-favorite) devices like the Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, and Lumia 920.

When you combine those two points with the idea of a $1,400 Windows Phone, well, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest it would have sold well, even with the Surface branding.

3. The app gap was more real than ever

Empty Store

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

In 2018, developers mostly abandoned making apps for Windows 10 Mobile. Windows phone always had an app-gap problem, which is a whole other topic, but releasing a device in 2018 with only UWP apps from the Microsoft Store would have been even more problematic, especially if the device costs well over $1,000.

Sure, if somehow Project Andromeda was going to be a pocketable x86 Windows device, that'd be slightly better. But it was strictly ARM32/64. Interestingly, a pocketable real Windows PC was the original vision behind what is Surface Duo today, but the silicon just wasn't ready (and probably still isn't).

We can all lament Microsoft's current struggles with Surface Duo, but there's one thing you absolutely can't criticize it for, which is apps, and that's just a fact.

4. A digital mobile journal device is super niche

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

People criticize Surface Duo for being too specific to be successful. They say that there's not enough market for it to sell well. I have defended niches in technology before, noting how they are the catalyst for new high-tech paradigms.

But there are limitations.

Project Andromeda and the resulting dual-screen device would have very few apps, cost $1,400, and been primarily focused on notetaking and journaling. This emphasis on the pen is a hallmark of Surface, but also hearkens back to the "Microsoft Courier" concept.

It's a fascinating idea, for sure, but have you noticed how there are very few Android phones that support inking? If I asked you to name one, 99% of you would yell out Samsung's Galaxy Note series. And that's it. And even there, that's just a regular Galaxy phone with an S Pen and a few clever apps.

The pen features on Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 are slowly coming together, but I'm not convinced a pen-first modality for a pocketable device would have been successful. Even Apple hasn't gone down this route yet.

To be clear, I'm not entirely against the idea, but when you stack up all the other reasons against Andromeda, it's a tough sell.

5. Andromeda's end game was not clear

HP Elite x3

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

File this under "we just don't know," but what was the long-term point of Andromeda OS? Hear me out.

When Microsoft built Windows Mobile/Phone/10 Mobile, the idea was to have an OS that could be licensed to OEMs to make Windows phones. The smartphone market was established, and it had landed on the generic "black slab" design with a few attempts at minor hardware divergence.

Of course, it all failed, but the OS model was straightforward.

But with Andromeda, did Microsoft plan to build it only for its dual-screen device? If not, did it really expect companies like HP, Samsung, or LG to jump on board and develop their own hardware with it? If it's the latter, why would they? Microsoft's previous aspirations in mobile were in absolute tatters, and all those companies lost money in those endeavors.

If, on the other hand, Microsoft only wanted Andromeda for itself, the justification for building it, the hardware, and trying to get developers on board seems absurdly challenging. Conversely, had Windows 10 Mobile been successful, everything would have been different, as Andromeda could be an extension of that ecosystem. But that was not the case.

On its own, Andromeda was a big dream surrounded by many past failures, bad mojo, and a lack of faith from consumers.

Wrap up: Fans want it; the market does not

While I wish the entire history of Microsoft's strategy in mobile were different, the facts are what they are. 2018 was just too late for something like Andromeda. Few apps, a disappearing developer base, a radical new UX with a focus on inking, very costly hardware, and coming off years of losses in smartphones and mobile, the entire environment for Andromeda was just not right.

Let's also not forget that the whole project was behind schedule, missing milestones, and quite buggy. If Microsoft never figured out Windows 10 Mobile, what makes you think Andromeda would have been any better?

And while Surface Duo 2 is still struggling for acceptance, it has a much better chance with Android in the long run. And, at the very least, Microsoft tried something to save the ambitious hardware design of Surface Duo. I'm actually happy about that as someone who loves the device.

Will Microsoft ever return to such a concept as Andromeda? I doubt it. But I do think the Surface team yearns for a foldable Surface Pro-like device, someday, that runs full Windows, but that's still a few years out.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

53 Comments
  • I'd say there is only 1 reason it ultimately failed and that is the app gap. It killed win 10, and thus andromeda. Who knows with win 11 and its ambition to run android apps maybe andromeda could be resurrected in some form
  • Nope. Even on desktop with beefy hardware those apps are slow and wildly resource intensive. Having phone class socs running windows and a virtual machine on top would be terrible.
  • You wouldn’t have that problem. The overhead is emulation running on x86. If it were windows on Arm there’s be no need for emulation.
  • That's perhaps the CPU overhead, but you're forgetting all the RAM the WSA VM requires even without running an app.
  • And if we are talking about Win32 desktop apps, they are not scalable to small displays and touch, thus automatic no go really. Who want to use a desktop Microsoft Word on a 6 inch screen? Heck, many of Microsoft owned-apps now don't even scale all that well when snapped, unless you got like 2K or 4K with at least 150% or 12% scaling.
  • Killed Windows 10? I'm not sure what that even means.
  • I think he refers to Windows Phone 10 but I am not sure.
  • Yes I meant the phone OS
  • App gap was a symptom, not a cause. When Windows Phone 7 launched, no one had apps but iPhone. Windows Phone 7 didn’t sell because Microsoft had a very poor strategy behind it and it just sucked. It was expensive, had zero customization, and everything even the hardware options for the manufacturers was extremely limited. Android had none of those issues. It was cheap, almost totally open to any hardware or features you wanted to add, and allowed the manufacturers to differentiate with their own UI and branding. Android easily outsold WP7 as it had full backing from almost all the manufacturers. Nokia was the only big name that didn’t immediately latch onto Android and we know how that went. WP7 was Microsoft’s chance, and they blew it. When it failed, the chance of success for later project became near zero as the market was decided. Microsoft need to bring their A-game to WP7, but we got a D at best. App developers went to the winner. Lack of apps was a symptom of low sales, not the cause.
  • Yes and no. Android had alot more choice but at the time 3rd party's gave android the better design. Look at the original line up for example. HTC were the standout WP at the time.
    Samsung LG all had half assed designs and when the phones did not sell like hotcakes they stopped bothering. HTC had the best selling WP until Nokia stepped in but then HTC started making amazing android phones like at the HTC one as an example nothing like that was done for WP leaving Nokia to take top spot. Add that to Samsung becoming the iPhone rival phone shops did not push anyone but Samsung and iPhone which lead to the death of other devices. When Microsoft bought Nokia and make the 950 and 950xl they were both ahead of there time in terms of power, camera, iros scanning, having usb c and continnum. Unfortunately Microsoft had already decided to kill WP and did not put any marketing into the 950 series and it just fell off a cliff. Apps as you say were not an issue at the start but lots of half assed pushing by eveyone was the reason why he flopped. Look at history of xbox or surface as an exanple for whare Microsoft kept going and worked out good for them. Surface duo is a product I have lots of hope for but I feel it will be a device that thay stop doing as they are not pushing it in any way shape or form. Not one advert on TV, billboard or even in its exclusive shops like EE and Curry's.
  • Well put, I agree with you that Lumia 950 (XL) was ahead (aside from a buggy launch). But yeah no marketing etc, MS probably was already planning to hit the nail on the coffin.
  • "Surface duo is a product I have lots of hope for but I feel it will be a device that thay stop doing as they are not pushing it in any way shape or form. Not one advert on TV, billboard or even in its exclusive shops like EE and Curry's."
    While that is absolutely true, it's because they know it's too early for such a strategy. The goal is to advance the OS and hardware (refine) and drop pricing to around $1,000. When that happens, that's when you'll see the mainstream push and real attempt to compete. They know this category is very early and risky, but even Samsung is aware that foldables won't really hit mainstream until 2024, as in, much wider adoption and it becoming more "normal."
  • Actual folding screen phones will likely be pushing down towards $1,000 by 2024. Microsoft needs to be well below that if they want to compete using their budget form factor.
  • I believe the Neo would have lent itself more for this software or an iteration thereof.
    Of couse, with Windows 11 around the corner, keeping a separate OS around for just 1 device when in all reality, the Neo could probably have run Win 11 made no sense either.
    All water under the bridge, though. Andromeda is as dead as Neo likely is.
    Maybe the Surface team will take a shot at a similar form factor based on Win11 one day.
  • Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. It just is very unfortunate. I'm not a fan of android but at this point it's a necessary evil. At least I can for the most part make my Android phone a "Microsoft" experience.
  • HP Elite x3. It really was awesome. Beautiful screen. Fluid in motion. Battery life that went on for days and Windows. Man I miss that phone.
  • Dual Sim. Man, I loved that phone.
  • You're right about the Elite X3. A totally exceptional phone. I love my Duo 2 now, but it still doesn't measure up to the power of my Elite. And why was Microsoft so eager to surrender their one feature that set them apart from Apple and increased user satisfaction: TILES. Now everyone has these damn dead icons!
  • Putting a blue square around every icon did NOT “increase user satisfaction”. In fact, what it did was increase user confusion. The whole tiles thing was stupid. Making all buttons look exactly the same is the very definition of “user hostile”. Icons are suppose to be iconic. You can find them easily, because THEY ALL LOOK DIFFERENT. When all icons look the same, you have defeated the purpose of icons. THAT is why MS finally dumped the stupid “tiles”.
  • With all due respect, but you have tiles in the most used (to-date) human machine interface: keyboard. And you do not have any problem of discoverability at all, rather you have muscle memory that is all but user hostile. Besides that, Tiles where not meant to just supplant app icons. You had alphanumeric ordered list for that. They were meant to supersede and improve icons with discoverability AND interaction (eventually).
    Where WP had true discoverability issues was in the Typography Menu and Canvas design. That one was inherited from Zune, and while it was striking and powerful, it was "hostile" to users that tried and transitioned from iOS and Android and were used to static TABs app design.
    However, IMHO, the real issue with WP UI/UX design was just that MS tried to force it to the Desktop PC. That was just and plain stupid, they realized it too late, they eventually backtracked and basically created a UI/UX design mess both in the mobile and in the desktop Win forks. Now mobile is dead, but Win10 was incoherent altogether and Win11 is also. Just less so.
  • I think you're essentially right about all of this Daniel, but the sorry story still highlights how far ahead Microsoft's thinking about a handheld UI was compared to anything we have from Android or Apple, even now. The app gap had pushed me to Android even before WinPho finally bit the dust, but I still look at what happened with sadness.
  • 6. Microsoft simply has no credibility in the mobile space. No one is going to take them seriously. MS already released great phone hardware with great cameras, great screens, etc. But they were NOT running iOS or Android. Thus, few people - including developers - were interested. Thus, there was - and is - no need for MS to sink resources into yet another mobile OS. The world does not NEED a 3rd mobile OS. That the proposed new mobile OS was from Microsoft only makes things worse. Apple or Google MIGHT be able to pull it off, but even then it would still be a huge undertaking/gamble, with more downside than upside. Would anyone take Apple seriously if they started selling rack mount MacOS servers running iDB in an attempt to compete with HP, Linux and Oracle? Of course not. The world does not need another server OS and another DB server. Particularly NOT from a consumer products company. Other companies MIGHT be able to pull it off, but……
  • You forgot to add that under Nadellas/Panos innovation strategy, the idea is to fail quickly. Something they learned after trying to salvage the original Windows Phone and 10M as long as they could. It allows Microsoft to try new ideas and if it doesn't work, pivot and retry a new approach, which is what they ultimately did with Android. It's a good approach even if the results aren't what fans immediately see. It paves the way to funnel resources into new and better ideas. And at the end they can repurpose their developments without completely sacrificing their investments. Which is what youve referenced before with Cortana and Kinect.
  • No, it is not: with their "Strategy" the XBox would not exist today.
    They did not try to salvage WP, just to kill it as quickly as possible.
    Nor Windows neither Office became best sellers overnight; even MS DOS faced a strong competition from DR DOS but in the end prevailed.
    The real issue is that MS has always struggled to execute brilliant concept generated by its researchers.
    From Cairo, through Longhorn, the Codex, the Moleskin, the Courier, the Band and the related software, Andromeda and the Neo, the list is endless...
  • Spot on! Beyond almost all other excuses, this is the number one reason for MS's failure here.
  • The reason why a journal based o/s is super niche - it's never been done before. Also, marketing for inking still sucks. Sadly, most folks in upper management lack imagination and foresight. In summary:
    Everyone takes notes - be it shopping lists, reminder notes, notes for lectures/classes, minutes for meetings. This generalised list covers all aspects in a person's life - personal and work. Other aspects - leisure such as hiking, orientering, camping etc those are niche uses but uses never the less. Furthermore, we all need to reduce the amount of paper we use be it notepads, sticky notes (post-its), moleskins etc. So a journal based o/s is not niche. The app issue was really exacerbated by poor mismanagement and lay of the mobile division after acquiring Nokia's D & S division. So, Andromeda O/S was hamstrung by poor foresight. Now, that lack of foresight is also hampering Hololens. No Windows Mobile means poor amount of UWA. Which in turn means poor amount of UWA for Hololens. ARM socs use less power than x86/x64 but are capable of so much more on the mobility front. It will take a few more years for X86/X64 to catch up to that USP for ARM.
  • X86 will never catchup. If anything the gap will get wider in the future.
  • Oh ye of little faith nothing improves forever. ARM has a massive lead primarily because Intel has been stifling innovation for ages. Now that they have been forced to innovate. They will hit that mobility usp, not because they want to, it's because they have to. Their entire existence depends on it. AMD is more close than Intel with chiplets. Plus they are not hamstrung by their own fabs. They are hamstrung by node allocation. The other alternative is of course to integrate ARM into X86/X64 CPUs and have them handle the light workload and background tasks (including connectivity). The bigger cores would handle the heavier tasks such as running gaming and content creation. The little cores are more than capable of handling general day to day productivity. This is possible using ARM64EC - the native code runs on ARM cores and the emulate code can run on x64/86. But the snag of course is the hardware which means new processor sockets, motherboards and UEFI changes. Since this is a costly endeavor. We won't see arm in x64 cpus yet.
  • Absolutely, the real problems are:
    The human factor: nowadays people are more and more reluctant to experiment with the "new".
    Objectively the lack of really good and effective software to execute the paradigm.
    Bloody hell, XP Tablet OS had pen related functionalities that are not available in W11.
  • That's the think though, digital inking despite being a decade old in existence, it is only much more recently it becomes more mature and cheaper to do so. Back then early 2000's, active pens (not dumb styluses) are rare, expensive, and bulky. That time, it was indeed niche. Nowadays, you can buy drawing tablets for around 100 USD and are already quite capable for basic art, give it more price and you can have full capacitive touchscreen. This wasn't a thing even like 10 years ago. Marketing about pen use is rather poor and even executive for the apps and OS are basic. So far Samsung got many things right, but that's after decades of trial and error. Apple learned from it and why they manage to almost nailed it early on. Now apparently Apple Pencil is actually quite attractive, if it wasn't that accessory is too expensive. But yeah, it is still largely unexplored territory, we are just getting started with this. We have very thin devices, responsive and arguably cheaper pen technology these days. We just have to really showcase the use case, which is typical things we do for real notebook, but for more. There are apps that showcase this well, like that FluidText on iPad just a single example. But I think this may take a while, for now we are not yet making pen enabled devices on cheap laptops like Chromebooks, but they are only gotten this feature recently and not that great currently. But eventually, maybe kids in the near future, digital notebook will be the norm. But certainly not now and current generation probably most didn't appreciate it since most didn't grew up having one, other than real notebook which is well "boring".
  • " the Surface team yearns for a foldable Surface Pro-like device, someday, that runs full Windows, but that's still a few years out.".... YUS, Windows on surface duo is happening!! 😁😁😁. Joking aside, I couldn't agree more with these points. By the time I gave up on lumia in late 2017, W10M had started to feel like a train wreck. Why do Microsoft struggle with OS projects? They've had over 45 years to perfect the process. The moment they had to turn thier attention to creating a different type of Windows, for a different form factor, they drop the ball. Apple had to pivot from desktop to mobile to wearable in order to survive. Google pivoted from search engine to desktop, mobile and wearable. Microsoft seemingly cannot bring the might of its engineering teams together in a coherant manner. I honestly believe that if a company can build a really good, compelling operating system, then developers will come. Both Apple and Google proved this point. Beyond traditional Windows, Microsoft cannot create operating systems good enough for developers to care about. It's a problem they could do with addressing.
  • "Why do Microsoft struggle with OS projects?", I think they could do it if the ceo would fully back them with a larger team and more budget (gut feeling, do not have any real numbers on this), but otoh why would the ceo do that if they make so much money with milking out Office and Azure? (it is insane how much revenue and it still increases per year).
    Short term profits aside, I still think it is shortsighted off them; Surface + Windows Phone could have provided a solid userbase for apps. Makes me wonder why MS just did not keep Windows Phone alive but keep the amount of released devices minimal (eg a yearly release of a budget phone and a highend midrange phone) and when ready put full Windows on it with some mobile skin.
  • Because that wouldn't have kept Windows Phone alive, that would have kept it an undead zombie that nobody would invest anything into and nobody would buy. Pointless waste of time and money for all involved.
  • I would have bought it. We are speaking here of the year 2016 / 2017 etc where Lumia 950 (XL) was still highly competitive with its camera and smoothness. Like I am not saying they should have stopped OS development completely but throw in some unique features like inking, keep the camera slightly in front of the curve and a few vital OS features from eg Android. When Lumia 950 / XL were released MS absolute speaking they still had a reasonable amount of users/fans.
  • No, they did not, that's why it failed. I mean, I myself used WP until 2016, so it's not like I didn't give it a chance or wanted it to fail. The bit of momentum it had in 2013/14 evaporated in 2015. By 2017 there was nothing to be kept alive anymore. The figurative "handful" of fans left by then would not have been enough to sustain it. Even if there had been limited releases as you suggest, what good would they be with the number of potential customers only going down and not up? The vast majority of customers had never cared and most of those who did had already long moved on at that point.
  • I get what you are saying but WP was not yet dead by 2015, just less used (but that is also because they were no or less real budget phones to choose from with WP 10). The Lumia 950 (XL)'s hardware was still appreciated by the WP Nokia fans (mainly because of the mix off good camera lenses and camera software, whereas eg the Lumia 1020 had an edge in camera hardware but lacked somewhat in camera software). And one should realize that Surface was growing at this point, so if MS kept WP alive you would have 2 stable audiences for the Windows Store (maybe 3 if you count Xbox too).
  • Same here. I would have, and will buy a WP whenever it hits the market. Truth be told, the app limitations, though a pain, didn't really bother me. And I dumped Android for WP before it was killed.
  • The Journal OS seems actually really useful, I wish that partly will be integrated in the Surface Duo (considering the Duo already leans a bit on the inking) and/or Windows 11 (would handy feature for the Surface Go/Pro too). Imagine being able to quickly jot down an idea or reminder on glance/lock screen. Its kind of like what Samsung offers on its Note phones but better integrated. I think its also something that is just fun for artists to show off. "3. The app gap was more real than ever", true but its also another case of short minded strategy on MS part. Surface was growing and if they kept WP alive, you would have a solid userbase for the Windows Store. "4. A digital mobile journal device is super niche", the Duo is also super niche as a dual-screen productivity phone, might as well make it more useful for the people that do buy such a device. "5. Andromeda's end game was not clear", the problem is that MS killed off Windows Phone, Andromeda did not make sense anymore, any bridges that were priorly still there were burned off effectively at that moment.
  • There was no chicken and egg problem per se, but only management misdirection. Point is that when you ask developers to write apps w/ Silverlight, then w/ WinRT APIs, then eventually with UWP framework, well, you are just inviting developers to tell "you know what? get your xxx together."
    MS chances in the mobile space are pretty much limited by their x86 first mantra. And that is understandable. But the management knew that since the beginning, it is not an aspect which came to light because of Win Phone failure in getting a foothold in the mobile space. Apple has transitioned with success from x68000, to PowerPc, to x86 and now ARM. They did not ask the few developers they had to re-write their sw quick each and every time or get booted out the platform. They were able to do so because of vertical integration. MS cannot do as well in the PC space because they need OEMs to be on-board. However they could do that in the Mobile space. Hell, they even bought Nokia to that scope. And yet you are so damned stubborn to push WinRT and UWP down the developers throats instead of letting them repackage their stuff and be done with it. On top of that, while you are basically screwing the developer base, you cave in to the big guys such as Facebook and Google. You don't let a Youtube app in the Win Store? Ok, so how about we go nuclear to Youtube on IE?
    By the way, the issue right now is that it is easier that ARM gains share in the desktop space than x86 will become relevant in the mobile space. This is the point, in my opinion, that MS have to address. They can rightly choose to focus on the business customers and cloud. That's ok for them. But if they want to stay relevant in the mobile and portable computing markets, they need to cut this stop&go, put a sicnere effort on ARM solutions and send a clear message to their Win x86 guys that as important as x86 is for MS, it may be not enough for the general customer market down the line in a few years. Pandemics are, we hope, a bug not a feature here to stay.
  • "Ok, so how about we go nuclear to Youtube on IE?"
    The only thing that would have hurt is IE and definitely not YouTube.
  • Maybe. But how did history pan out for IE anyways? The point is MS simply gave up on web because win32/64 was not the only fish in the pond. Downplaying the fact that mobile would have been the route to connect people 24h a day and bring the web in your day life routine, just because you did not need a Win PC for that, was their mistake and they own it. This is the point, IMHO.
  • Microsoft's many mobile strategy reboots were, in no small part, motivated/required by their insistence on sticking with Windows CE-kernel mobile operating systems for far too long. Windows CE was never going to be a successful long-term strategy, constrained what could be achieved with operating systems derived from it due to its technical limitations, and should only have ever been a temporary stop-gap solution while they worked on a unified Windows kernel for multiple device platforms (what would eventually become OneCore). The all-too-often changing developer story for mobile Windows was essentially a side-effect of there being a lack of a long-term and stable strategy for Windows in the mobile space on both devices and platforms. Though Microsoft finally ditched Windows CE with Windows 8.0 in 2012, and (arguably) the peak of Windows' existence as a mobile platform was c. 2014 (also around when OneCore actually started to become "a thing," internally at least), by then it was probably already too late to capture a sustainable share of the 3rd-party app market given that the competition had already been in that space since 2008. If OneCore had been available years earlier, definitely by the time of Windows Phone 7's release in 2010, then the developer story could have stabilised much sooner, perhaps making it a more attractive proposition as an app platform when Windows on phones still had a realistic chance.
  • Oh yes, I totally agree with what you said, of course. I was not delving into the reasons behind the different reboots. I was just discussing that the app problem itself could have been eased out if at each and every reboot developers' work could have been shielded just like Apple has done over the decades with Rosetta, etc.
    Problem is that MS did not think for a sec to guarantee a sustainable app market when they released Win Phone. The concept of the hubs, the timeline, atc. was all about service integration and the apps where meant to be just games. However, then you had Facebook revoking tokens and pushing you out because they do make money from advertisement but if you can get your facebook timeline w/o having the app installed... at that point, Facebook basically told you, well you know what? I am not going to spend 1$ to develop an app for WM. Same basically goes for Google vs Bing, Google Maps vs. Here Maps, and on and on.
    By the time MS realized that you need a sustainable app store to make your mobile platform alive, they had already lost developer base and basically any chance of mobile double digit market share.
  • Well, yes and not: if you deliver a product that is, at least in some key factors, superior and more appealing than the competition is never too late. And this is MS should know very well: Word and Excel were launched in a market already dominated by WordPerfect, Quattro Pro e Lotus; in spite of it nowadays Office is a primary source of revenues for MS while the competitors belong to history.
    Same could be said for PDAs: MS and CE enetered a market dominated by Palm and very quickly obliterated it.
  • It doesn’t matter what you ask developers to use if you don’t have users. It isn’t a chicken and egg problem because users always have to come first. Developers aren’t going to make apps where there are no people to use them. Android had the same issue at first. I agree they need to commit. They need to develop a strong strategy, get the company behind it, and fully commit. Anything less will always fail.
  • Agree with the internal mismanagement issues. That's a core problem. Another problem was a lack of vision. When you are entering a difficult market, you need a vision to offer consumers something they aren't already getting from the competition. The fact that it's a different brand isn't enough. Just offering a "Windows Phone" with similar specs, similar price, and fewer apps is not a solution to anyone's problem. There are many ways to bring a new vision to market. For example, with the Nokia acquisition, the Nokia team was making the best camera in the phone business. MS could have turned it up to 11 and made phones that cater to people who are into photography. If the phone does something well that really matters to you, you'll compromise a bit on other things like an app gap. Creative, visionary people could certainly come up with other ideas (and perhaps better ones). In the beginning, your sales might just cater to a smaller section of the market, but that's how new products always start. Start by getting a small percentage of the people committed to your vision, and then build up from there. MS didn't have that vision. They just assumed that they should walk away if they can't walk in and have success saying, "Here's a new product that looks like other products, costs the same, but doesn't have as many apps." Every new product faces challenges. Good leaders and visionaries find ways to overcome those challenges. The WP team did not have enough good leaders and visionaries.
  • So when will Microsoft get their act together (management-wise)? There's no excuse for a company that's been around this long, this size, and having the experience it has to fail consistently at getting OSes and other products to the market.
  • It is a puzzle for the ages that a company of Microsoft's heritage and longevity, in the GUI operating systems market since the mid-80s, has never really successfully nailed a move in that space big time beyond desktop PCs (and, I guess to be fair, servers to some extent). Perhaps their old motto "A computer on every desk and in every home" is still being taken by them far too literally?
  • Too many entrenched old school managers inhibiting progress probably.
    The fact they can’t make up their minds on their dev tools is depressingly frustrating.
    It’s still not one Microsoft. It’s divisional.
    Look how they are rowing back from UWP to WinUI.
    Yet you can’t build a UI with a form builder as it doesn’t exist.
    Think about. Their next big UI paradigm, yet their principle tools won’t ship with the tools to build one. It’s laughable. Sat Nad cares about cloud and Xbox for the subs and little else it seems.
  • Companies like AOL, Blackberry, etc. were once the biggest in tech and look at them now. Just being big does not mean you succeed. There is a lot of being at the right place at the right time with tech. To be fair with MS, they are doing fine, they flip between them and Apple as most valued.
  • The app gap existed because MS cannot get their Dev Div straight.
    There should be
    1 language target
    1 GUI framework
    1 widget set This nonsense gap between all the parts of MS is still hurting it today. Example. The latest V Studio is out.
    Win UI3 is ready.
    But guess what. No visual UI builder for WinUI in VS at shipping. Gawd. We had this in VB 6 days.
    This continual moving and back tracking on the development tool chain is why people fatigue of MS and just move to web and competing platforms.
    So much talent, so little management pulling it all together.
    Such a shame. Frustrating company.
  • The reason the app gap existed was because iOS and Android had a duopoly and, frankly, there was no reason for devs or companies to spend money and resources to develop apps and maintain and support them on a third platform. Its a catch-22; you don't have critical mass to attract app development and you can't gain critical mass because you have no apps. That's it, that's why. Its not the coding language, the tools, etc. If money or users were there, devs wold make it work.
  • I mean the number one reason it was probably the right choice is that it's been over three years and Microsoft haven't gone bankrupt because of the decision so...