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Microsoft's next attempt at Windows mobile won't support Silverlight apps

As Windows Central has been reporting on for several weeks now, Microsoft is not done with its mobile efforts, and internally has already started work on its next attempt at a Windows powered phone platform. For a while now, I've been hearing whispers that Microsoft's next attempt at Windows phone won't include support for older, Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight based apps, and today more evidence for that has come forward.

Thanks to a screenshot from @gus33000 on Twitter, we can now see that Microsoft has already developed a temporary popup for when a user tries to open a Silverlight app on a build that doesn't support it. The popup says "Silverlight apps are no longer supported on this version of Windows." What does this mean for you? It means that when Microsoft is ready to launch its next attempt at Windows on mobile devices, older apps like WhatsApp will not work.

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean current Windows phone devices will lose support for these apps. It's likely that Microsoft's next attempt at Windows phone won't even launch for existing handsets. Sources suggest Microsoft is going to start afresh with Windows on mobile devices, with UWP being front and center. This is a good thing, as it helps remove older apps that aren't using any new Windows 10 APIs, and forces developers to update their apps or be left behind.

This change should also hopefully directly benefit Windows 10 desktop users too. WhatsApp, for example, now has a choice. Either continue supporting its Silverlight app for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile devices, or build a UWP app and bring it to Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft's next attempt at Windows on mobile handsets, and 500 million Windows 10 PCs. I think the smart choice is pretty obvious.

Windows Central will have more details regarding the future of Windows phone soon. In the meantime, what do you think of this rumored change? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Is that a joke, right? Right...? Another stupid move from MS...
    Sorry, I don't have much time, and I don't detail what is the exact problem. The problem is this instant cut, I want to testing the Insider bulids, but I like to use the old Silverlight apps I have (Bookviser Reader).
    So you understand, do not you? Sorry for my bad english.
  • Are you kidding? Silverlight apps have been dragging down W10M experience since its launch. They are slow to open, don't support proper scaling and are terrible at background processes. If Microsoft is truly working on foldable tablet there is no way those apps would be suitable for such form factor.
  • Took the words right out of my mouth
  • Sorry, I don't have much time, and I don't detail what is the exact problem. The problem is this instant cut, I want to testing the Insider bulids, but I like to use the old Silverlight apps I have (Bookviser Reader).
    So you understand, do not you? Sorry for my bad english.
  • You're definitely a potato.
  • Seriously? The vast majority of WP users are using 8.1. That means no app they are currently using will work on the new phones unless the developer already created a W10 version, which most have not and will not after these endless restarts.
  • Another reboot of Windows Phone? I see another epic fail. They never learn. Sad.
  • I think it's not a reboot, because UWP apps are supported for like two years now, and MS isn't introducing a whole new app model as the only way of making apps. And yeah, as others said, if they want to make a foldable 3in1 device, they need apps that scale well. UWP apps do, and Silverlight apps don't.
  • You're definitely a potato.
  • No time, go away then...
  • If developers haven't updated already though, why will they now? How is this tactic actually going to change anything?
  • Spot on.
  • Now it's all in. You either follow or get left behind. This is the OS for the future, not the past. And even if they don't follow, not much will change. Btw Apple is doing the same stuff. You get a similar pop-up saying old 32bit apps will no longer work. Once iOS 11 comes out it's done. Ao deva either update their apps, or are left behind.
  • There is no left behind, people have other options. Also this only affects mobile, not desktops. I just saw the second part of your comment, updating an app to 64 bit is not the same as a design language being discontinued. I can understand why they are doing this, hell everyone did it with Flash too. I just don't think segmenting Windows Mobile even further is the right move. Microsoft is all about backwards compatibility in the Desktop and console markets, why not mobile?
  • Apple, people who use Apple are too dumb to even understand how to use apps.
  • Haha I just read it this one was so funny
  • This should eliminate 70 or 80 percent of the apps that are left in the store. That should make lots of people happy. Especially developers.
  • Don't worry, it will have the same, if not worse, adoption rate of W10M has currently.
  • Hahaha. I saw what you did there.
    The 80% app left will be pulled. By then, the problem will be *windows phone store not supported* rather than *Silverlight apps not supported*. By that time, even symbian 3v2 will have more apps lying around than win10mobile.
  • I'm really worried about the only Grindr option in the Windows Store not working in future phones, Meet'm is also Silverlight and has been recently updated.
  • Could be devs havent updated yet because there was no plan in sight ...but have already begun work knowing MS's plans which we dont know of due to NDA's. Could be why there is currently a UWP Spotify app for the Windows Store etc. I think Microsoft does have something up Its sleeve and in order to "start over," they wouldnt take another risk with thr current state of WM there surely is a plan in place and their "starting over" is already in motion because I personally believe the OS for mobile will in fact be Windows 10 S + Continuum. The interface will also be a lot more trendy and clean through fluent language/design of the OS, which should go well with the general population and students (of which MS is clearly targeting).
  • Agreed. You also get the advantage of being able to remove some stuff from Windows itself, because you no longer need to support Silverlight - how much stuff, I don't know, but it would take up less space and more importantly, there is less legacy code for you to maintain going forward. By that I mean, every time you want to make changes to the way the OS handles UI, or anything else, really, you no longer need to consider what those would mean to Silverlight apps. I think this could potentially speed up development of W10M as well as perhaps speed up the performance of the OS itself. Now, they "just" need developers to jump onboard with UWP...
  • But older apps are better than without app because no chance more new apps. Developers not interested in Windows Phone 📱. Microsoft also. Only Windows Phone fans are remaining.
  • Here here....
  • Silverlight apps launch faster than w10 apps, especially without the stupid splash screen. Many of us remember the instant app launches of long ago, with very minimal hardware.
  • I really hope they will get get rid of old Silverlights apps forever.
    They are a cancer for Windows Store and user experience.
  • I can't say I agree. I just started using WhatsApp (just for a couple weeks while familky is traveling out of the country), and the thing has given me 0 troubles. It has been very quick to open and perfectly functional. IDK which others are these types of legacy apps, but the one I know about (WhatsApp) has been as good and stable as anything that comes built into the OS, including the shoddy Groove Music that likes to stop pushing sound randomly after the last update I got.
  • I don't really think it's a stupid move. Microsoft, for a long time has been trying to attract developers to build apps for Windows platform (and most of em doesn't even use Windows 10 API). The only problem that I've found, is Microsoft is not strict about their design system.
  • nobody uses that, Silverlight was Microsoft attempt at flash, shouldn't have every existed in the first place, switch to standards.  The official language for Android development is Java. Large parts of Android are written in Java and its APIsare designed to be called primarily from Java. That said, it is possible to develop C and C++ apps using the Android Native Development Kit (NDK), however it isn't something that Google promotes. Objective-C Objective-C. Objective-C is the iOS standard, considered the "correct" language, according to Stephen Kaliski, who works for NYC-based start-up Poptip. The iPhone — and all iOS programming for that matter — is written in Objective-C through Apple's Xcode integrated development environment (IDE) Both could run emulated or even native in windows However, to learn and develop in Objective-C, you are not obliged to procure a Macintosh. Actually, there is a free implementation of OpenStep framework (developed by Apple) called GNUstep, which is, multiplatform and works under GNU/Linux as well as Microsoft Windows. that just an example im not a programmer but microsoft before it went bipolar said they were looking to make windows the best and safest andriod app runner, before they changed their minds , AGAIN!!!!
  • From what I've heard, Objective C/C++ is effectively dead, and everything is now done in Swift for iOS.
  • This is one of the best decisions Microsoft could have possibly made. I don't want my future Windows phone being held back by lazy developers who won't switch to UWP.
  • But why would developers bother making apps for UWP if all Microsoft does is shelve their systems and force developers to remake their apps every few years?
  • Excellent comment
  • Forced to remake their apps every few years??? Many x86 apps that are 20 years old can still run on Windows 10 PCs.
  • Ok, add "on mobiles".
  • He's talking about phones.
  • Do they really have to remake them? Don't they have a program to convert the apps to appx?
  • From what I can tell from the limited knowledge I have, I don't actually think it's that simple.
  • Go watch BUILD 2017. About the tools to convert apps.
  • Sin Ogaris... I develop for the Windows platform.  And, when it comes to Silverlight, most Windows developers I know have seen the writing on the wall, as I have for years.  Within 2-4 years of its release, you could tell that while Silverlight certainly served as an inspiration for where some aspects of the UX should be headed, and the sort of UI tools developers should have at their disposal, it was not going to become an industry standard and in relatively short order was eclipsed by HTML 5 on the web, updates to XAML on the PC/Windows Phone, more recently Xamarian, etc.  In a round about way, the death of Flash also signaled the eventual death of Silverlight, as it meant more browsers were steering away from the idea of allowing such plugins to be used in their browsers.  At this point, it makes almost no sense to continue to support and prop up the use of Silverlight, especially as the pool of developers still actively using it continues to dry up.
  • Like I said, I do understand why they are doing this, I mean, they moved away from Silverlight online awhile back, it just feels like their strategies for mobile are the polar opposite of the rest of their divisions. And it just really doesn't seem like developers feel incentivised to continue working on the mobile platform. What is it that keeps you working on Windows Mobile is it because you are a fan of the OS? And, conversely, if you weren't a Windows Phone user would you, objectively, say that you would still be developing for Windows Phone? Serious questions by the way, it would be great to hear from someone actually working with the platform.
  • Facebook told us they where all in with Windows 10. So let them build a true UWA for Windows 10. If you could use WhatsApp on a PC using when you match your Microsoft account to the mobile phone (number) you use for WhatsApp would be huge!
  • oh so this will force developers to switch to UWP after years of neglect by MS?
  • Force? Only if they are inclined to continue investing their time and money in the Windows platform. The fact that they haven't so far (and recently I haven't seen Microsoft make any compelling case for them to start doing so) makes me think the majority will just let their Silverlight apps die and move on to greener pastures.
  • Smart active developers already switched, the Silverlight apps everyone's up in arms over are dead wood apps that haven't been updated in years.
  • I don't really see Microsoft having a leverage over developers with existing Silverlight apps. And I don't think it matters if the now existing W10M loses Silverlight ability or the new chapter of W10 on phones doesn't support Silverlight. There are still more WP8/8.1 users than there are W10M users. So the benefit for a mainly mobile app to change to UWP is not as big as staying on Silverlight. And if the Silverlight disability is only on newer hardware with even less users, the leverage is even smaller.
    You and I may prefer UWP apps. But why should a developer change from Silverlight to UWP if they don't want their app to run on PCs?
  • You dont look at this from the right angle. MS realises they do not have weight in tur mobile phone area, so they focus their efforts where they are heavy, where they have alot of users, and thus potential MS store customers. Then announced having several OEMs on board making all kind of mobile touch computers, now including ARM based units and AR devices that are essentially MS devices. Lots of customers, lots of available devices, and now a solid commitment and a plan on MS side, if devs. and customers continue taking the bait like they have begun. Then, suddenly, with an existing user base on the platform using MS Store, making a new phone suddenly becomes an option. Either an Windows 10 mobile device, or an W10 for ARM with CShell device. Either way, focusing on W8.x legacy support is not worth spending resources in my opinion, as the customer base MS need to get will be on their UWP platform, and MS relies on developers finding potential value in developing UWP apps for all the broad W10 platform.        
  • But that would be PCs more than phones. Some developers like from WhatsApp for example don't want their apps running on a computer. They only let it run on phones. I am aware, that UWP would be no hindrance in that aspect, but in that moment my argument with the user base comes in to play...
  • If they think, their app dont want to run on pc.. Then why did they create a win32app for pc ??
  • This is not a standalone app. It can only synchronize with WhatsApp on a phone. All the messaging goes through the phone still. The client for PC just fetches the messages and lets you answer. You can't make phone calls, you can only send text messages or files.
  • This is what Microsoft wants to change. Their strategy, synchronizing Mobile and PC. Right now, both WhatsApp on desktop and mobile use different code. UWP will make them became one code. And that will ease developers when they want to update their apps, because of one coding.
  • I know that this is Microsoft's goal. But the developers of WhatsApp don't seem to want WhatsApp to be able to run on a PC as a standalone app.
  • Microsoft wants to change that, and we will see if WhatsApp will agree with it, Microsoft needs very good reason to convince WhatsApp to follow Microsoft strategy.
  • And yet me and all my contacts that have a desk job use the web app ten times more than the phone over the week.... If most apps are not used on PC it's because they simply don't exist... But while my phone is a great solution on the go... I'm more often at a desk or will be using windows 10 arm on a tablet if given the choice than my phone even if it's phablet... SoI think phone app devs are hugely missing an opportunity here... About 90% of the 200 apps I currently have on my phone... Would see way more usage from me and many of my friends if they were UWP or simply on PC
  • It's the same for me. I probably use the desktop client for WhatsApp more than I use the app on my phone... Don't get me wrong: I'm all for a UWP version of WhatsApp and all the other apps and programmes I'm using. The developers of WhatsApp just haven't done things that would make me think that they will make a UWP and make their service available on pc without using a phone. And because they concentrate on phone, it wouldn't make sense to make a UWA because a majority of phones running any version of Windows couldn't use it.
  • And what if this "lazy developer" then decides not to develop a new, non-Silverlight app? Wouldn't your Windows phone experience be held back by lack of the specific app as well (WhatsApp for example)?
  • Let me remind you that the "lazy" developers you talk about do what they do because they love the platform and as a hobby. The Windows platform has never generated significant revenue and despite people commenting on the lack of apps the platform has always punched way above its weight in terms of apps. If the amount of apps were proportional to the amount of users I think we would have like half the apps we had at the height of WP popularity. I am not saying that removing Silverlight is not justified but not acknowledging the damage and blaming the devs is absurd.
  • "Lazy developers"? Seriously Zac? I don't think those apps weren't updated because the developers are "lazy".
  • As WP developer, I don't think lazy is not the right word.
    Most dev that don't update their apps to UWP maybe because: Some API or UI Control doesn't exist in UWP (e.g. if dev using Telerik Image Editor, there's yet no Image Editor for their UWP suite). Majority of Silverlight apps is design for only Phone, even though UWP apps doesn't have to be available for Desktop, but porting Silverlight apps just for Phone is not worth the efforts.
    And for supporting Desktop they must re-design they apps to adapt various screen size, which I can tell you it's more work than just porting Silverlight code. They leave Windows Store for Google Store or App Store because Windows Phone has very small user base and small user base is equals to less money.
    Or they leave Windows Store because MS seems doesn't care about developer any more. But as developer I support MS decision to drop support for Silverlight apps.
  • @Zac dude are you out of your mind! you are actually blaming developers not making apps or switching to UWP!? Blame microsoft devs/engineers for doing a ****** job with W10M. Iit costs lot of money to make/maintain apps and no devs gonna waste their time updating or makign apps for W10M if microsoft is not doing much to sell thier product.
  • Facebook is using their iOS app. What's stoping others from doing the same?
  • "lazy" developers? "Cheap" windows phone consumers don't deserve the effort. I have an app that hit 250,000 downloads. Total made from that app was $4000. Half the reviews were people asking for it to be free. Consumers stop being ungrateful and maybe Devs won't be lazy.
  • I really like BookViser app. One of the best reading app that deserves more credit.
  • This is naturally their next step, nothing wrong with it. Thus is the next iteration. BUT, the only thing is whether they are going to release that next version before the ecosystem is ready. As we can see, it won't be ready, but it can still turn out to be good. It all depends of Microsoft.
  • Google Translate fail.
  • yes right.. the consumers are going to back yet another radical os change from MS. lol
  • So, Microsoft will be doing the EXACT same thing again and forcing developers to rewrite their apps for phone. Yeah, because that has worked out so well for them in the past.
  • Lol, if I was a dev, I would stay away from WP as much as I could at this point
  • You'll lose then. There is no more windows phone it is only windows 10, the same OS on all form factor
  • But it isn't the same OS, feature wise they are very different, just because the underlining stuff is the same hasn't meant a thing.
  • The underlying stuff is not same. It's just a marketing strategy by MS, saying that it's one OS. Even the kernel has to be recompiled for the different architectures. The only thing that comes close to being same is the UWP app platform and runtime. For the remaining parts of the OS, even if they might have some common source code, the compiled OS is vastly different across different processor architectures.
  • See, I always assumed this was the case, but I really didn't know enough about it to comment. Thanks for the info.
  • I on the other hand plan to mainly focus on UWP development once I get some free time.
  • I don't think it's for phones per se, I believe it's one app that runs on all devices. If Windows 10 S is the new mobile OS to be used rmr we already use apps on our phones from the windows store already so having devs create an app UWP based would be beneficial to all. Right now we have WhatsApp on our phones and WhatsApp web on our laptops and PCs, so if the devs created WhatsApp that was for the windows store that can be installed on PC and at same time on phones we'd benefit period. Right now Facebook app on my PC is updated practically every week compared to my mobile that's been waiting months for one sniff. Imagine getting updates for apps the same time as the PC and with the same frequency. Having UWP based apps means more can be done to them giving us users higher quality UI experiences and the willingness to buy and donate would be higher to encourage app development.
  • If it is Windows 10S, then why do they have to create a new platform? They already have it. Sounds like this is something different from all the rumors.
  • I think i will be over windows phone and move to a more secure and understanding platform like android or ios
  • Secure?
  • I don't think he means secure in the way that you think he does.
  • Sarcasm, right? 
  • Secure and Android do not belong in th same comment!!!!
  • The most secure phones are running Android. If security is very important, Android powers the best choices.
  • I don't 'buy' it. These so-called secure Android phones might only be such because they run obscure versions, not because of some ingenious hardening. For the average user of typical mass produced elite devices, I'd not go near an Android one. (And I won't put any Google app on my iPhone.)
  • Name an obscure version of Android! Lol. Hardening is exactly what they did. Android is open source. They are able to modify it as they see fit. How secure is your iPhone? Very common hardware and software that has had known exploits in the past. If you are that worried about security, then iPhone might not be a great choice.
  • The article you linked to mentioned different variants. You take their 'hardened' phones to be technilogical genius. Capable people work for all of these companies. Sooner or later, flaws are discovered in all of them. That there are so few of these 'hardened' phones probably protects them more than engineering wizardry.  I don't expect any device will be completely secure, but I'll take an iPhone or Windows phone over any Android device. 
  • If security is that important to you, your best choices are running Android. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that all iOS and Windows phones are less secure than some Android phones.
  • Pardon me if I chuckle. You cited an article that mentions secure phones, the cheapest of which is three grand. 
  • Blackberry runs Android for the casual security concerned. For the paranoid people there are Blackphones and their ilk. These outdated ideas of Android four years ago are just as irrelevant as Windows Mobile OS.
  • Using Android as an example for more secure is a sign of lacking insight
  • Again, wrong meaning of secure. Well, technically the right meaning, but wrong context.
  • Omg....the only secure thing about windows will be 10s but after 2 weeks they will upgrade to pro and floodgates of viruses will open....and my God andriod has now been around for what like 10 years....really foolish if you think theres been more virusus on andriod vrs Microsoft just foolish
  • Sorry but i rather have someone looking at my recent views or looking at things ive bought to try to sell me something then my bank account drained or my comp being held up for a ransom. Were way down the rabbit hole to go back and currently ios and Android are safer then Microsoft just facts.
  • Hmm... You do know Windows is very secure nowadays?
  • Microsoft need to bring a new handset into the market very soon.📱📱 I'm still loyal windows phone platform user n hope they will in summer/autumn 2017 now.🤞🏻🤙🏻
  • Microsoft need to bring a new handset into the market very soon.📱📱 I'm still loyal windows phone platform user n hope they will in summer/autumn 2017 now.🤞🏻🤙🏻
  • I never thought that microsoft's next attempt at mobile would have anything to do with the present hardware.. To have any chance of success it will have to through off all the shakles of the past, which most of the public want nothing to do with.....
  • Hardware? Sure. But hardware has never been the problem, it's the software and surrounding ecosystem. And in 2017 this problem is bigger then ever with no signs of improving.
  • Yes, agree.. What I meant was the article says that they can't see a new mobile OS working with the existing mobile hardware.. I agree and have to accept that my 950xl and 730 will be totally unsupported soon... I'm not happy but this is the way Microsoft is... My 730 funny enough is running much better than the 950 on CU, but is unsupported...
  • How long, in your opinion, should Microsoft support phone hardware with updates?  10 years??  People on the majority upgrade their phone every 2 years... some every year, and then there are the rest in a small group that hang on to phones until they die.
  • My 730 is old, I just use it on insiders but my main 950xl is only 9 months old and expect the software to be supported some time more.. The CU has made it far more unstable than before despite 2 hard resets and using the wdrt.. Not too great and far from 2 years..
  • But upgrading a phone shouldn't mean having to find all your apps again and potentially not having access to all the apps you were previously using.
  • Phones aren't going to be updated. It is a reboot. You will need to buy new hardware.
  • Agreed, absolutely.. But they should still provide a decent platform for a while longer...
  • I mean upgrading, as in getting a new model. As it stands you upgrade from say, a 640 to a 950, you can download all your settings and apps and it's all awesome. With the next device, if this does come into play, you will find that you won't be downloading all your apps again, you'll have to go hunt them down in the store again, if they are available at all.
  • I bet this won't be marketed as a Windows device. If it isn't a true reboot with new marketing and a totally new strategy, it is doomed to failure. If this has the word "Windows" anywhere near it, it is doomed. Like the article said yesterday, they need to appear cool in order to reach consumers. The Windows brand is the exact opposite of cool.
  • Yeah... no way they could ever sell half a billion Windows devices. What a preposterous idea. 
  • We'll have to wait and see.. I suspect the new platform will be tied to the store as things are now but many of the old apps, certainty Silverlight ones will be labelled "will not work on this device".. That's fine.. I just hope the new system and hardware are worth all this....
  • Nah, Thurrot said earliest next year sometime. Possibly holiday if I'm not mistaken. Per the source it's just prototype and it could be canned.
  • surface laptop giveaway???when they gonna announce the winner?
  • So how many big named apps are we looking at here
  • I would be pretty p***ed off if I no longer had WhatsApp (and other big apps) because they didn't approach the developers and worked with them to have an alternative on day 1, ready to move to. That would definitely mean jumping ship ☹ Microsoft doesn't understand, they don't have the same pulling power as Android or iOS to make developers work around the clock to support their new requirements. Just because Windows is present on most PC's, and therefore developers should/need to cater to their requirements, doesn't mean they can pull the same stunt on Mobile.
  • What's wrong with web apps? They often run better than the dedicated apps, Facebook being a prime example...
  • Can't do some things in web apps. Can't use camera for Bank deposits. Also web apps are often clunky and slow. Just look at CNBC on the web and then look at their Android app. They have similar functionality. Like night and day for speed and smoothness.
  • Web Apps aren't apps. They never were and never will be. They're a poor substitute that only get used on this platform to try fill the gaps in the app store. The
  • Web apps won't but progressive web apps definitely will.
  • Strange... I've always thought apps was a poor solution to solve the problem of mobile browsers being horrible in the past since they interface with web services.
  • WhatsApp doesn't have a standalone web app. And at least in Europe pretty much everyone uses WhatsApp...
  • Pretty much everyone I know in USA uses Telegram
  • I am aware that WhatsApp isn't very wide spread in the USA. But it is in Europe, as I mentioned. And since pretty much everyone of my friends uses it and has group chats in it, it would be ridiculous to make them change their behaviour in favor of me, because I can't use that one app anymore... :/
  • Facebook does work way better on website than the actual app imo.
  • only because they prefer to update the PC app version instead
  • The Facebook website is the only decent means of using Facebook, everything else is absolute crud in comparison.
  • They should just turn Windows Phone into a feature phone OS and give it away for free, at least that way it lives on and doesn't have any issues with apps until MS way down the road actually figures out some kind of strategy, not repeating itself over and over.
  • Windows Mobile OS is already free to OEMs.
  • I can live without uwp Spotify, but not without uwp whatsapp
  • Yep, if they decide to shoot whatsapp in the foot, they can say goodbye to most of the people who use this platform.
  • I deleted WhatsApp about a week ago. I just couldn't wait to do it. Once I made my mom switch to Skype, it was gone in a matter of seconds. Good riddance. It was definitely the worst app on my phone.