Technology giant Microsoft made a startling announcement right before Columbus Day: the company will no longer dedicate any towards future development of its Windows mobile platforms, including Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile and the Unified Windows Platform that supported the ambitious Continuum project. Several tech analysts were surprised at the announcement, but others pointed out that Microsoft had already sold off Nokia and discontinued its streaming music platform Groove; these are two factors that hinted towards an exit from smartphones.
Rumors are now flying about whether the Windows operating system will ever return to smartphones. The current speculation suggests that Microsoft is contemplating a Surface smartphone that will mostly appeal to enterprise users; however, a more plausible situation involves the company working closer with the Android and Linux development communities, which could lead to a massive increaser in global Android market share.
Although Microsoft has promised to continue issuing patches and fixes for its smartphone operating systems, there is no indication that the company will seek further opportunities in the mobile space outside of branding and apps; however, it is important to consider that the Nokia Lumia 630 featured hardware architecture that could have supported the Android operating system. Some Microsoft apps such as Word and Excel are extremely popular on Android, and this may be what the company has in mind for the near future as it relates to smartphones.
Microsoft has also been able to position some of its most popular apps and services on the iTunes App Store, but it is clear that the company seems to put more of an effort into developing Android apps such as Skype, Microsoft office Mobile, Planner, and others. It is not clear whether the company will one day decide to work directly with Google, but it seems as if the inevitably confluence of the Chrome OS and Android is something that Microsoft could explore.
For the time being, analysts expect a considerable migration of Windows Mobile users to Android in the next few years. In some regions such Latin America and parts of Europe, this means millions of users switching to the Android mobile operating system instead of choosing iPhones, and this decision will be mostly made based on the availability of their favorite Microsoft apps on Google Play; another factor could be Windows emulator and compatibility apps, which are more likely to be developed for Android than iOS.