2019 marked the official end of Windows Phone, the death of books in the Microsoft Store, and the end of several Microsoft apps and services, but as Dumbledore said, "Do not pity the dead. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love." While these products have passed on, we had the pleasure of using them during their time.
Before marching ahead into 2020 and the thrilling future of xCloud, Windows 10X, and one of the most exciting hardware lineups from Microsoft that we'll ever see in a single year, let's take one last look back at the Microsoft apps and services we lost in 2019.
Windows Phone was on life support even before 2019, but Microsoft began pulling plugs in 2019. The Windows Phone Store shut down in late December and Windows 10 Mobile support is ending this month. Windows 10 Mobile's end of support begins the final march of the much-loved platform.
Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile are loved by many users, and inspired developers, enthusiasts, and fans to jump onto the Windows platform. I wouldn't be a tech journalist covering Windows if it wasn't for my Lumia 930.
Cortana on Xbox One
One of the Xbox's most popular titles inspired the name of Cortana, but in 2019 Microsoft ended Cortana support for the Xbox One. People can no longer use Cortana for voice commands over Kinect or headsets to control the Xbox One or their TVs. Instead, people can use Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana over external speakers, or revert to the original locally-processed commands. While these new assistants work well, are useful beyond the Xbox One, and don't require a Kinect, it's a bit sad that you can't call for Cortana when using an Xbox anymore.
Cortana on Xbox One is survived by Alexa and Google Assistant.
Books in the Microsoft Store
With Kindle book support on Windows 10 being so poor, Microsoft tried to deliver a reading experience for Windows 10 users by selling books through the Microsoft Store. The idea never really gained traction, and Microsoft decided to stop selling books through the Microsoft Store. Taking it one step further, Microsoft revoked access to any books that people purchased through the Microsoft Store and issued refunds.
Books in the Microsoft Store are survived by a terrible Kindle app built for Windows 7 and Freda.
Streaming music through Groove Music from OneDrive
Groove Music lost one of its final useful features this year, the ability to stream music from OneDrive. Groove was in decline since Groove Music Pass ended in 2017, but losing the ability to stream music from the cloud was the final blow for many people on the service. Groove Music still functions as a music player for local files, but that's about it.
Technically, Wunderlist doesn't die until May 2020, but its replacement is entirely in place, and Microsoft is moving on. Microsoft acquired Wunderlist in 2015 and quickly began migrating features to a spiritual successor, Microsoft To Do. It took longer than expected, but Microsoft To Do caught up to Wunderlist and continues to receive updates.
Wunderlist is survived by its successor, Microsoft To Do, and its founder Christian Reber, who wants to repurchase the app from Microsoft.
While we say farewell to these apps and services, our memories remain, and their legacies live on. While once we streamed music, we will soon stream games. While we once looked at our lists with wonder, we now check off to-dos. While our Lumias may rest in a drawer, our dream of a Surface Phone lives on.
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