While 2021 was a big year for new devices and services from Microsoft, the company also ended support for several of its products. Gamers, business customers, and general consumers all lost out on at least one Microsoft-made item. Here are the biggest things that Microsoft killed off in 2021.
Windows 10X was meant to be a new version of Windows made from the ground up for modern computing. It was built on top of Windows Core OS, which removed legacy components in the name of a better user experience and improved security. The new OS was even available for Insiders to try out but was canceled in May 2021.
"Instead of bringing a product called Windows 10X to market in 2021 like we originally intended, we are leveraging learnings from our journey thus far and accelerating the integration of key foundational 10X technology into other parts of Windows and products at the company," said Microsoft.
Microsoft didn't just put a new skin on top of Windows when developing Windows 10X. It took a different approach to computing. That came with some bumps in the road and sticking points about how to support legacy applications. Ultimately, the company decided to take some elements created for Windows 10X and place them in Windows 11.
While Windows 11 has legacy support and is built on the same core as Windows 10 and previous versions of Windows, it does have several of the elements seen in Windows 10X. The new Start menu, Taskbar, and Action Center all appeared on Windows 10X before making their way to Windows 11. The improved touch keyboard, voice typing experience, and several other features also made their way to Windows 11 from Windows 10X.
The end of Windows 10X also marked the likely end of the Surface Neo. Microsoft's handheld foldable PC was set to run Windows 10X. There's still a possibility that we could see the Neo running Windows 11, but there's a good chance that the device will never be available for consumers.
Minecraft Earth was a spinoff of the popular Minecraft series that merged the iconic game with the real world. Initially revealed in 2019, Minecraft Earth brought an augmented reality experience to iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately for those that enjoyed the game, the end of Minecraft Earth was announced at the beginning of the year, and the game closed down on June 30, 2021.
While Minecraft Earth drew criticism for how it aggressively handled microtransactions and its time limits for certain tasks, there were aspects of the game that were worthwhile. Our Zachary Boddy broke down some lessons that Minecraft could learn from Minecraft Earth.
Microsoft replaced the old Microsoft Edge with the new Microsoft Edge in a Windows 10 update in April 2021. The newer version of Edge, which is based on Chromium, came out in 2020, but Microsoft took its time to roll it out as a complete replacement for the older version of Edge.
Generally speaking, the new Microsoft Edge has received better reviews than its predecessor. Because it's based on Chromium, the new Edge has better compatibility with websites and supports extensions. Microsoft also regularly adds features to the new Edge.
While the new version of Edge works well, and is considered by some to be one of the best Windows apps, it has received criticism this year. Microsoft aggressively pushed the browser on people and added buy now, pay later functionality this year. Microsoft making certain elements of Windows open in Edge despite people's default browser settings has also caused complaints.
Timeline syncing across devices
The Timeline feature on Windows is still technically around, but Microsoft removed its core functionality. Timeline lost the ability to sync across devices in July 2021, at least for those with Microsoft accounts (Azure Active Directory accounts were unaffected by the change). For most Windows users, the feature is just a chronological Task View. Timeline has its uses, but it isn't what it once was.
Syncing your timeline across certain devices required Cortana. The iOS and Android apps for Cortana have since been discontinued, making Timeline less useful. The end of the mobile Cortana apps likely factored into Microsoft discontinuing Timeline syncing across devices.
Skype for Business
Microsoft announced the end of Skype for Business back in 2019. This was done to give organizations enough time to transition to a replacement, such as Microsoft Teams. On July 31, 2021, Microsoft retired Skype for Business Online.
With two years to make the switch, many businesses were able to move over to Teams or another offering. Microsoft has a support document for organizations that still need to move away from Skype for Business.
OneGuide TV listings on the Xbox One
Microsoft has moved away from TV-centric features for the Xbox One for quite some time. That trend continued with the end of TV listings in OneGuide on the Xbox One in May 2021.
It's clear that Microsoft has prioritized gaming on Xbox consoles, which makes sense. Unfortunately, that shift has hurt the ability to use an Xbox device as a media hub. The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S don't even support Microsoft's own Xbox One Digital TV Tuner. The new consoles also lack the OneGuide app.
Last year, our senior editor Zac Bowden analyzed if you can replace the Xbox One with an Xbox Series X or S when it comes to viewing TV.
With the death of OneGuide TV listings on the Xbox One, Microsoft's older console lost support for one of its last remaining dedicated TV functions.
More in the graveyard
These are the biggest products and services that Microsoft ended in 2021, but it's not a comprehensive list. Killed by Microsoft keeps a detailed timeline of what Microsoft ends support for. That site's timeline goes back to 1995, so you can reminisce about when Microsoft Bob reached its end of support.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.