Microsoft previously revealed that Windows 10 Mobile would be updated to a new build dubbed “feature2” but would not be further developed beyond that point. Importantly, however, the firm downplayed the importance of this move when questioned whether this would be the end of Windows 10 Mobile, implying that it was not.
But according to Windows Central’s Zac Bowden, this is not the case; he states that his sources “paint a different story,” adding that “Windows 10 Mobile development has been separated from the rest of Windows 10 on other platforms.”
He says that this is happening because Windows 10 Mobile is “no longer needed,” for Microsoft’s future plans for Windows on mobile devices. In other words, Windows for mobile devices is not dying, but the current form of it as Windows 10 Mobile appears to be on death row, so to speak; it’s not going to be axed any time soon, but it is going to be put into a lower priority sub-bracket of development and support to prop up existing users.
The focus, however, will shift onto what may be yet another big reboot to try to get the Windows brand some kind of traction in the mobile device space. Bowden’s sources mention “Microsoft’s next mobile device” running on a so-called Andromeda OS. An interesting choice of name considering Google’s alleged Android and ChromeOS hybrid also has the same moniker.
Microsoft’s Andromeda OS: What We Know So Far…
20th time’s a charm?
Whenever I read or write about Microsoft’s mobile initiatives, I kind of get the impression that there are a lot of smart people with good ideas at work on making Windows a player in the mobile space. Each new attempt is always better than the last, but it is never spot on – there’s always something missing (apps, phone support, reach, etc).
Andromeda OS, if you’ve been following the Microsoft vs. Mobile saga seems as if it is what the company has been angling towards all along – a proper unified platform. I know that was meant to be what Windows 10 Mobile was all about in the first place, but adoption of that has been so low you cannot blame Microsoft for trying a new way.
“Andromeda may not sound huge yet,” notes MS Power User, “as it’s part of something bigger Microsoft has been working on for a while — and that is the new Composable Shell (aka CShell). Composable Shell, for those unfamiliar, is a new adaptive shell in Windows 10 which will allow the OS to adapt to the device it’s currently running on. Parts of Composable Shell are already in debug symbols in Windows 10, recently found by Microsoft enthusiast walking cat.”
It’s just a shame that those who believe in Microsoft – the people that adopted each new idea as it came around – are now, obviously, being left behind in favour of a grander, more far-reaching endeavour. In this respect, though, it really just comes down to numbers from Microsoft – in that, it is better to annoy a few people and gain a million new users, than it is to just stay put.
Microsoft’s Andromeda, according to the report, is a “modular” Windows build that can be used on any device form factor. Unlike previous version of Windows 10, that will be facilitated by the whole thing using the same development SKU instead of having a dedicated one seperate for Windows 10 Mobile.
“Because of this, Microsoft no longer needs a phone-specific version of Windows 10, which means Windows 10 Mobile is now redundant,” says Bowden.
What that means is, the feature2 build of Windows 10 Mobile is entirely designed to “continue supporting existing Windows phone handsets over the next year and a half,” he said.
“The feature2 branch’s main goal is to continue servicing Windows 10 Mobile devices through 2018 with bug fixes, security updates, and new Enterprise specific features. I’m also told Microsoft will be backporting new UWP APIs that are introduced in Redstone 3 and Redstone 4 on PC.”
Bowden said that these APIs are being backported rather is “because the feature2 branch is technically Redstone 2 under the hood.”
“This means Windows 10 Mobile will be keeping with Redstone 2 for the remainder of its life,” he added.
“It’s also worth noting that Microsoft’s effort of backporting new APIs to Windows 10 Mobile is only planned up to Redstone 4, but that could change down the line,” said Bowden.
He said that once Microsoft stops porting APIs Windows 10 Mobile handsets, such as the Lumua 950 and its ilk, will “very quickly fall behind the rest of Windows 10”.
“As developers start targeting new APIs that get introduced in Redstone 5, those apps won’t be able to run on feature2 Windows 10 Mobile.”
He said that Microsoft may, however, continue to support Windows 10 Mobile via security updates for the rest of 2018.
“Microsoft is keeping Windows 10 Mobile around for the foreseeable future to cater to its remaining users,” said Bowden.
“The company is hoping to have its next attempt at Windows 10 on a mobile device ready before it drops support for Windows 10 Mobile entirely, which we’re expecting will happen by the end of 2018.”
In closing, Bowden adds that he believes Microsoft’s next big mobile device will be “some sort of reboot,” due to the fact that existing Windows phone handsets will be getting left behind at the software development level.