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We say one final farewell to these products and services Microsoft shut down in 2020

Mixer Logo
Mixer Logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

This year Microsoft released the Surface Duo, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and plenty of other products and services, but it also said farewell to quite a bit. Streaming platforms, old operating systems, physical stores, and more all shut down in 2020. Some things that ended were quite expected, like Windows 7 support, while Mixer and others came as a surprise. 2020 has been an incredibly different year, so some shutdowns, like the closing of physical Microsoft Stores, may not have happened in different circumstances.

Windows 7 support

Windows 7 update prompt

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

Windows 7 is an operating system beloved by many, but all good things come to an end. Official support for Windows 7 ended in January 2020. With its end, PCs running the old operating system no longer get official security updates. This end of support was known for years, but several organizations haven't migrated away from Windows 7 yet.

Windows 10X on dual-screen devices (at least for now)

Surface Neo Twopane

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

At one point in time, Windows 10X seemed destined to only grace the likes of folding devices such as the Surface Neo. But in May of this year, Microsoft chief product office, Panos Panay, announced that Microsoft shifted its strategy for Windows 10X. Instead of being an OS that shipped exclusively to folding devices, Windows 10X will arrive first on single-screen devices.

Luckily for those who love folding tech, Windows 10X will still come to them at some point. Panay said, "These single-screen devices will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market."

Unfortunately, that means that the ThinkPad X1 Fold started rolling out with Windows 10 Pro, which isn't built for large folding screens. On the bright side, we'll likely see Windows 10X on more budget-friendly devices in the future.

Mixer

Mixer @ E3

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

Mixer shutting down was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Not only did the news pop up quickly for the public, it broke to partners and streamers through a tweet. BobDuckNWeave streamed for years on Mixer and said, "[It was] worse than a breakup via text from your other half of five years," adding that "The delivery of the announcement shows the complete lack of empathy you'd expect from a corporation like Microsoft."

While Microsoft shut down Mixer this year, the platform's ultra-low latency video streaming technology lives on in other Microsoft services. Microsoft Teams leverages the former service's streaming technology.

Matt Brown took a deep dive into what went wrong with Mixer shortly after Microsoft announced that it was shutting down, while later speaking to some of the top personalities from the platform.

Cortana skills on Windows 10

Cortana and Microsoft logo

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

Cortana shifted towards productivity and away from general consumer usage this year. Microsoft announced a new Cortana experience that can find information across Microsoft 365, help manage your schedule with insight, and do other tasks that improve productivity. Microsoft dropped support for Cortana skills on Windows 10 with the new experience. That means that skills for Xbox, Spotify, SmartThings, and more stopped working on Cortana on Windows 10.

More devices are set to lose access to Cortana soon. Starting in January 2021, Microsoft will end Cortana integration with the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.

Physical Microsoft Stores

Microsoft Store London

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

This past June, Microsoft announced that all physical Microsoft Stores would close as part of a "strategic change." Microsoft stated at the time that it would put more money and effort into digital storefronts.

Physical Microsoft Stores closed only a few months after they shut their doors due to the global pandemic. Team members moved to remote jobs, and Microsoft shifted its efforts to deliver an experience not anchored to physical stores. But Microsoft Stores weren't just about shopping. They provided a place for people to bring in faulty devices to get help, a location for training, and a place to check out the latest tech from Microsoft in person.

Microsoft will repurpose four stores to "experience centers," but those locations are only available to a small group of people due to geography. Our senior editor Zac Bowden discussed the negative impact of physical Microsoft Stores shutting down earlier this year.

Honorable mention- Skype

Ok, so Skype isn't actually dead. In fact, hundreds of millions of people have Skype accounts, and I bet a few people still use them. That being said, in a year when more people shifted to video calls than ever, Skype fell even further behind competing services. Zoom became the verb of choice for video calling and Skype ... didn't. The Late Late Show with James Corden did a great sketch that summarizes Skype in 2020.

While Skype didn't do well in 2020, Microsoft Teams use skyrocketed. Teams appears to be Microsoft's pride and joy. The service gained new features, regularly received updates, and over 115 million people use it daily. More importantly for Microsoft, Teams gained traction among businesses, in enterprise, and in the eyes of the general public.

A final farewell

As 2020 comes to a close, we big a final farewell to these Microsoft products and services. While it's sad to see some of them go, there's a lot to look forward to in 2021. Next year is set to be a big year for Windows and new Surface hardware is just around the corner.

Which product or service will you miss the most? Is there one that you're happy Microsoft moved on from? Let us know in the comments below.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

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 sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

27 Comments
  • Don't forget Johnson Controls' GLAS. : {
  • Or the invoke, or was that last year?
  • Invoke dies this month.
  • To this day I still mourn the loss of Cortana. I used her on all my devices from the moment she released on Android as a Beta.
    Skype has been on the way out for a few years now. I wouldn't be surprised if it was phased out by the end of 2021. The lag and stability issues were always an issue.
    Microsoft Stores going away hurts. It was likely my easiest access to work for Microsoft, (my dream company), and now they are gone.
  • Windows 10 Mobile ended in January 2020 too. Was a seemingly long wait for my Duo! Although not a successor to Lumia. It's a worthy upgrade.
  • Some of these cuts are usually those made by companies circling the drain. The closures of the Microsoft Stores and Mixer may wind up to be the most damaging, as they may need themto stay relevant to consumers in the future. I think they cut bait too soon, just as they did with Windows Phone.
  • I guess I'm one of the few that use Skype. Honestly, I don't think it should go anywhere. It works for family video calls and that's all that matters. I'm not going to tell my grandma to use Zoom or whatever just because it's the new trend. Yes, my grandmother uses Skype!
  • I dont use Skype personally, or it happens sometimes when xbox live or discord struggles. But my employer uses Skype for business. I thought they would use teams, but it is what it is!
  • Skype for Business will become Teams. Skype for Business is now on life support.
  • Regarding Microsoft Stores. I am in the UK, when the first rumours of Microsoft Stores going international happened in 2013 I began to think of buying my next WindowsPhone from a Microsoft Store. I had an original Surface Pro and thought that my upgrades would eventually come from sitting down with a proper curated space of Microsoft products and services. Within five miles of my home are two Apple Stores and two Samsung specific stores. In 2019 the London Microsoft Store opened. WindowsPhone was gone. Consumer services gone. Microsoft had moved on. It was making too much money from business and it's partnerships meant the Microsoft brand was more narrowly focussed. I attend a smartphone photo event in a local Apple Store for free. They demonstrate Apple products and services for consumers. Today I have an Apple ipad and iphone. I still use a PC today for work. I use a PC at home. I have a Microsoft 365 Home subscription. I don't think Microsoft cares too much about me buying a PC from them. Its a minor income area. Closing things also closed an ecosystem.
  • Gotta wonder if the founders of Beam regret selling Mixer to Microsoft. They had a good thing going.
  • Did someone forget about Remix3D?
  • I'll definitely miss Cortana on my Invoke the most. Currently shopping for a good sounding replacement smart speaker. I've had free Skype call minutes for years and never use them.
  • I will miss mine too. I still use the two I have. Been transitioning over to Alexa since the announcment.
  • I have four of them. My daughters use them a lot but we have already moved over to Alexa enabled devices. Alexa devices do a lot of Cortana was supposed to do. We still have the invokes plugged in and do use them at times but waiting for the so called update in January. So sad.. :(
  • Skype. Once literally a decade ahead of everyone else in video calling. Cortana. Arrived when Google still couldn't speak and Alexa was more than a year away. Why is Microsoft so bad at maintaining momentum!
  • Skype has "evolved" into Teams, whivh is arguably a better platform. Cortana was grossly neglected from the start, mainly because MS thinks the US is the world. Same with Bing and lots of other products...
  • Don't say that, otherwise Dan Rubino will respond with a comment or an article as to why US focus was a good thing, even though there would be no data to back that up and in the future, it would be proven wrong
  • Cortana is still the only AI assistant that would read a frigging SMS to me when I was on hands free. How is that so hard for anyone else to implement?
  • 'Windows 10X on dual-screen devices' I'm still crossing my fingers for a W10X powered Duo-like device in the future; the only way such a device makes any sense...
  • Its sad to see the shift that Microsoft kept doing for Cortana, as well as the drop of use in Skype, but what really sucks is the closures of the physical Microsoft stores. I really enjoyed visiting the stores and checking out the various devices. I don't understand why Microsoft eliminates certain things that make it awesome, such as ZuneHD MP3's, Groove, Cortana (disappearing from prime time), Skype going to the back burner and now, the closure of its physical stores. Can someone please help me understand what is going on and why Microsoft makes these seemingly abrupt decisions, that has somewhat of a negative impact? Am I wrong about what I'm seeing?
  • Remember the build up to Windows 10. All the things MS was involved in. Phones, Cortana, Hololens, etc. It seemed like they were actually on an innovative roll. I was so excited for everything they were doing. Now what are they doing? I rarely come to Windows Central any more because I am not sure what they can actually discuss anymore other than all the things Microsoft killed off.
    How many cloud articles can they report on? How many Windows updates are even worthy of a mention?
    A few years ago people said MS would soon be like IBM. It does seem they are going that way.
  • A pretty slim list, especially since you had to realllllly reach to include 10X on dual screen devices ... neither product has actually been released.
  • Microsoft has come so far while leaving exceptional products and services to die slow deaths along the way because they didn't live up to the media pundit's expectations, not the consumers. Being a dual user (corporate & personal) from the beginning I've seen so much that nothing surprises me - it annoys me to the point I've become skeptical of supporting anything new, no matter how innovative it appears. Windows Phone is a prime example of Microsoft's inability to manage innovation without killing it, just like Cortana becoming an accessibility product instead of the innovated personal assistant it started out as - including it's use on the Invoke. I for one have watched as really useful technology innovations die not from a lack of user support but from a real lack of management support from within the company itself.
  • The London MS store opened to loads of hype in summer 2019, and was gone by summer 2020. I managed to visit there just once. All that time, money and construction hours down the drain
  • Am I the only person that is completely baffled as to why Windows 10X isn't on the Surface Pro X?
  • Can understand why they killed cortana becuse they never try to get it to come alive in the first place. USA is not the world and it they want it to extend maybe let everyone use it? So they shot them self in the foot directly in the launch of it.