Ten years ago, Windows Phone 7 was presented at an exciting Mobile World Congress. It was Microsoft’s definitive bet on smartphones and a way to go beyond its comfort zone: the professional market. Windows Phone 7 was a promising first step, but the real revolution came with Windows Phone 8, which would be replaced by Windows Phone 8.1 and, later, Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10X is the heir to the latter, as we will see later.
Windows Phone: story of an excruciating death
Windows Phone has garnered positive reviews for its excellent performance, modern user interface, and impressive Nokia Lumia line devices (rest in peace). However, he dragged throughout his life a problem that was the cause of his death: the lack of nominations. The developers have never stopped betting on Windows Phone and, later, Windows 10 Mobile.
Years have passed and the platform was still stagnant. While Android has only grown, and after a few good years of health, the Windows Phone light has gone out. Confirmation of his death arrived in 2017 but it was already an open secret. Everything that came after, as they say, is history.
Microsoft revamped the company, put Windows on the back burner, and began to focus on empowering its departments. Office and Azure have taken on unprecedented importance and time has given to those who bet this way, at least financially. Microsoft’s financial health is enormous today, but many will wonder at what cost?
Windows 10X: a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the resurrection of “Windows Phone”
Now, in the midst of a pandemic year, we are starting to notice how something is evolving within Microsoft. In the spring, Panos Panay, the new director of the Windows division, confirmed the upcoming arrival of Windows 10X as a lightweight and secure operating system for entry-level laptops and tablets.
But we know Windows 10X is more. It is a modern version of Windows, freed from its legacy components and based on the Windows Core operating system. It is a software capable of working on all types of hardware by simply adapting the shell: laptops, tablets, flexible computers and, of course, smartphones. It’s not in vain that Windows 10X shares much of its code with Windows 10 Mobile, according to sources close to the development.
So far, there is nothing strange. Yes, Microsoft has software in its hands that could run on phones, so what? This is by no means sufficient reason to announce the return of the “Windows Phone”. But the clues don’t end there.
Project Latte: Android apps running Windows 10
At the end of November, we learned that Microsoft was working on Project Latte, which intends to bring Android applications to Windows 10. This would be possible thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), in which Microsoft has put a lot of effort. ‘efforts in the last few times. Developers’ effort would be minimal and applications would go from being dependent on Google services to being subject to dependencies on Microsoft.
Some may remember that Project Latte isn’t something entirely new but has its immediate predecessor in Project Astoria, which was about to see the light of day and would bring Android apps to Windows 10 Mobile. It was decided to go back to show full commitment to UWP, which in hindsight doesn’t seem to have worked.
The question a lot of people are asking is, why do we want Android apps in Windows 10? Desktop use relies on the web and some particularly useful programs. It is difficult to think of Windows users asking for applications suitable for mobile phones and their respective touch interfaces (for the test, Windows 8 and its resounding failure). What I put on the table is: what if Project Latte didn’t aim to use Android apps on our PCs with Windows 10? What if you wanted to promote the future launch of a version of Windows 10X suitable for smartphones? Bringing Windows Phone back to life now seems less unlikely.
What is Microsoft doing with ARM?
As if that weren’t enough, we learned yesterday from Bloomberg that Microsoft may be looking to go fully into the design of its own ARM chips. It was put on the table that the main goal would be to create chips for its own servers and, possibly, for a device in the Surface line. I go even further: what if Microsoft wanted to use these ARM chips in possible smartphones with Windows 10X?
I don’t mean it’s going to happen, and I don’t have inside information about it either. However, I am one of those who believe in the old adage that “when the river rings, the water carries”. Think about it for a moment: Project Latte, Windows 10X, and the ARM chips made by Microsoft. The ingredients are on the table, Microsoft just has to press the button to start the shaker.
iOS is an excellent system but prohibitively expensive for many people and with restrictions that not all users want to assume. Android, for its part, offers a questionable user experience, especially when it comes to support and updates. Microsoft could hit the table and try to challenge Android’s reign. From my point of view, it’s worth a try and they have the tools for it. The consumer market and especially that of smartphones is too massive for a company like Microsoft not to claim to have its share of the pie. Time will dictate judgment but it’s my bet: “Windows Phone” is back.