What does the 'death of Windows Phone' mean for Windows Central? An editor's response
Anxiety is in the air as Microsoft's mobile ambitions wane. Here is why if Windows phones are dead it won't matter to this site.
Earlier this week we highlighted a fascinating question posed in our famously large and passionate forums: what, if anything, does the decline and Windows on the phone mean for the site?
I wanted to take a few minutes try an answer from the vantage point of the editors of Windows Central.
As I've been a forum member going back to 2007 and part of the initial launch of the front page "blog" in 2009, I have a vested and tangible history with the mobile community.
There is little doubt that in Spring 2017 the "death" of Windows on the phone feels more real than ever. Sure, Microsoft is continuing to work on Windows 10 Mobile, but even there, its future gets murky.
Most of this concern is the fault of Microsoft, of course, who have not done the things they said they would e.g. create phones if their partners are not, or even have a plan for tackling smartphones going into 2018.
I've argued they should talk about this at BUILD next month, but I have little confidence that they will.
Planning for the future (in 2014)
A few years ago many of us who run this site began to see a significant downshift in the Windows Phone market. Luckily, at the same time, Microsoft was launching Windows 10. We took that opportunity to do an overhaul both in our name and goals for the site.
No longer were just focusing on phones, but expanding to PCs, laptops, Surface, more on Xbox, and even HoloLens.
Come October it will have been three years since we shifted from Windows Phone Central to Windows Central. Interestingly, many in the community still refer to and think of us as the former, but even for the last year, our daily coverage is 90 percent non-phone news.
Not only did we change because of the tenuous situation in mobile, but also because there was much more on Windows 10 and the growing Microsoft ecosystem we were leaving on the table. It became increasingly hard to not talk about Surface regularly, or what OneCore means for all of Windows.
In that sense, it was a liberating experience for the staff to go beyond just phones, which, to be honest, were becoming a bit stale as a category.
It's never been better (for us)
All that preamble brings to my main point. Nothing will change to this site even if Microsoft came out and canceled Windows on the phone tomorrow.
The fact is, Windows Central is doing very well regardless of the situation in mobile. Here are just a few examples:
- The site has double-digit year-over-year growth and is doing fantastic regarding search traffic, our YouTube channel, and general mindshare.
- Our site now has excellent relationships with the companies we cover including HP, Lenovo, Dell, Razer, Alcatel, and even crowd-sourced startups like the Eve V. We're invited to all the major (and even minor) press events, embargos, and product reviews.
- We've brought on all-stars like Jez Corden and Zac Bowden who are doing what we hired them to do: crush Xbox and Windows news, scoops, and analysis.
- We have a fantastic staff like Mauro Huculak, Cale Hunt, Richard Devine, and Rich Edmonds focusing daily on popular how-to guides, best-of advice, and more.
- George Ponder, who has been with the site as long as I, still publishes daily reviews and deals on apps and games especially for phone users
- Our forums have over two million posts from nearly 400,000 members globally, making us one of the largest Windows and Microsoft communities in the world.
- Microsoft works with us now on many levels for press for all their products, announcements, and releases giving more access than ever.
- We have successfully shifted from quickly re-published news and uninformative app update articles to more in-depth editorials, analysis, and guides.
- The site now has a full-time managing editor with Al Sacco, who ensures the trains are running on time, to the right location, and to the quality that we and you expect.
- Thanks to Dan Thorpe-Lancaster we have still have our regular stream of daily news and critical updates that you expect.
- We successfully re-launched the Windows Central Podcast with Zac Bowden and me after a multi-year hiatus; it's now the top community-focused Microsoft podcast with more than 60k listeners a month.
As far as articles focusing on the phone getting more comments than others, this is not a good measurement of anything. On almost any day our most-viewed and top-searched articles are often the "help and how to" ones.
While the hardcore fans come for the nitty-gritty news bits or OS update news, regular people just want to know how to get the most out of their new PC.
So, readers and fans of the site (and Microsoft), do not worry at all about Windows Central. We are on track to have our best year ever with or without Windows 10 Mobile. We have a lot of smart people working behind the scenes, and our goal is to keep getting better for years to come.
And despite the continued decline of Windows on phone, Windows Central will still cover it as long as there is something to report on. This is what we do, it's what we love. You have our promise.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
Daniel, and his staff, may not think so, but I love the work they do here, and I appreciate it. Although I wish WP could be a part of this sites success, I understand the dynamic..... I only hope mobile news (positive news) comes back one day.
But, I have my 950, and I'm not going anywhere. I'll be here until the end.
Looks like another re-start with ARM running 'full' Windows 10.
That's is well under progress and it will happen by Q1 2018.
Then (only then), we will see new hardware from Microsoft and partners running the 'new' mobile version of W10. Whatever you want to call it. Sure, MS might come with some fancy name. Of course Surface Phone will appear shortly after that. I am actually exited about that.
Please stop with that 'death' nonesence.
Microsoft have never invited WC to any public launch or given them devices to test.
If anything, WC know as much as a mean in the street in Sao Paulo
They post twitter feeds of three employees we all have access to on twitter.
You cra cra
It's not the 1st time they give out wrong informations
Guess who is in the majority, producers or consumers?
Your money come from users like me, are you singing the same nadella song? Bash your users
I'm bored, really bored, guys
Of course it's only my own opinion
I've uninstalled for similar reasons mspu, npu, windowsteca and wbi and never went back...
I like WC, but i hope that will not become toilet paper like mspu, enough is enough
I've me too a bad feeling with ms nowadays seeing unfair politics of nadella or ms execs (like sarkar or Leblanc) using iphones..
Anyway i feel that theese kind of articles are annoying a lot of your readers.
We know that ms, under nadella, is doing a lot of mistakes that are compromising our beloved windows ecosystem, but reading this kind of stuff twice per day does not improve at all the situation
But, do you feel all theese depressing articles are boring or not?...
Of course just my own opinion Please don't turn into a copy of mspu
[... my colleagues and my ...]*
You mean a lot :)
I also came from Nokia symbian and that led me to Windows. I believe many others are the same. Interesting to see if Nokia/HMD trust or will work with Microsoft in the near the future.
Windows Central will continue to grow.
I just hope the negativity reduces and people who are either trolling or moved away from Windows/Mobile, either leave or watch silently, as that's where the majority of the negativity comes from.
My favourite title is Windows Central and that despite the car crash that is mobile.
So it's good to hear WC is doing well in a crowded market. Keep up the good work folks.
I've been using and enjoying the service you chaps provide for a while now. Been on WM since Windows 7 on my HD7.
Cracking job folks.
The real question is, what happens long term. There's no real way google can reach into the desktop or server space. You can't scale 3-4 dollar app purchases up to enterprise grade software. Apple has made no moves toward hybrid despite being a player who actually could be. So what happens when MS herculean convergence OS comes together? Where it literally runs the same on smartwatch, dehumidifier, smartphone, tablet, server, console?
I think that kind of weight is going to throw a lot of pressure on the other two, because its a developers dream. Code once, huge audience, multiple platforms. The remaining questions are things like -who will have the best assistant, what other arena's can be apple or googles win?
Will apple even survive the very incoming downturn in smartphone growth, to negative growth, given their dependance on the iphone?
What I see happening, isn't the end of MS. As audascious as some may find it - its more the death of someone like amazon, or apple, who's product portfolio is not as diverse as MS or google, and more dependant on "a phase" in technology.
Respectively, very hard to read. I assume, you spent the time writing, so you hoped others would read what you wrote. So you do want to communicate?
I don't blindly follow a crowd. I don't need a shiny glittering new phone very often. My Windows Phone works great.
Just this evening, Comcast Xfinity dropped our TV signal again, so we used a Lumia 950 with continuum and the dock to stream the baseball game to our big screen HD TV. Worked great.
BTW that was a stupid question to ask...
Please take no offense. Everyone has to die. :)