The world’s favourite messaging app, WhatsApp is going to stop working on millions of phones over the next couple of months. The reason behind that is the fact that the company, owned by Facebook now, has decided to withdraw support  of the app from older mobile platforms.

All phones running iOS 8 or older, along with all phones running Android Version 2.3.7 or older will not have WhatsApp support from February 1st, 2020. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as all the users of such operating systems have been unable to create new accounts on WhatsApp or re-verify pre-existing accounts for a while now.

WhatsApp will also be withdrawing complete support for all Windows Phones. This change will come into effect after December 31st, 2019. It coincides with the time that Microsoft has decided to end its support for the Windows 10 Mobile Operating System.

In a press release, WhatsApp said ‘because we no longer actively develop for these operating systems, some features might stop functioning at any time’.

WhatsApp will not be stopping its support for devices running at least Android 4.0.3 or iOS 9. Regarding the changes on the iOS 8 devices, WhatsApp said this in a blog post:

“On iOS 8, you can no longer create new accounts or re verify existing accounts,’ the company said in a blog post. If WhatsApp is currently active on your iOS 8 device, you’ll be able to use it until February 1, 2020.”

If you happen to have phones which run on Linux-operated KaiOS 2.5.1 or older system, such as JioPhone and JioPhone 2, they will continue to enjoy WhatsApp’s support.

As per WhatsApp, it has been phasing out support for smartphone platforms that”‘don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future”.

WhatsApp also said this about the situation in another blog post on the company’s website: ‘This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.’

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system is almost defunct now and WhatsApp is one of the latest casualties of that development. Microsoft has gone as far as to suggest Windows 10 Mobile users to switch to iOS or Android devices to deal with a lack of app support for the Windows 10 Mobile platform.

Why has Microsoft discontinued Windows phones?

  • While Microsoft held the ‘mobile-first, cloud-first’ mantra for some time, it decided to drop it in the year 2016. The software giant gutted its entire phone business and laid off thousands of employees. One of the biggest problems faced by Windows Mobile users was a lack of apps for the mobile platform. Facebook dropped its Windows Mobile support in April 2019. Skype left Windows Mobile soon after that as well. And now WhatsApp has followed suit.
  • Microsoft’s market share had dropped to a measly 0.3% of the mobile phone market at the end of 2016’s third financial quarter.
  • Users and critics alike have claimed that Windows Mobile apps are terrible when compared to their Android and iOS counterparts.

The Rise and Fall of Windows Mobile

Microsoft is abandoning all of its mobile OS aspirations as of January 2020. In Windows Phone, it produced a unique mobile Operating System. A quite different and unique operating system, if we are being honest.

The journey to Windows Phone 10 was a vibrant one that spanned three decades and included many devices, along with a number of other different operating systems.

We will start this story with the launch of Windows CE 1.0 in 1996.

1996 – Windows CE 1.0

Windows CE was launched in 1996 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and laid the inspiration for Microsoft’s future mobile operating systems.

Referred to as Handheld PCs, the form factor of these devices was that of a small, portable PC, resembling more a tiny laptop than the mobile devices we are used to today.

But they were definitely mobile, generally weighing less than 450 grams. CPU speeds were within the 40-50 MHz range, and they usually came with monochrome screens with a display resolution of around 480×240 pixels.

Pocket Internet Explorer was also introduced with CE 1.0. It did not share a codebase with its desktop counterpart. It was written from scratch to be lightweight and compact.

Best Device in class: HP 320LX

2000 – Pocket PC 2000

Based on Windows CE 3.0, which was launched in the same year, the only resolution supported by this release was 240×320 (QVGA).

Built-in apps included pocket versions of Microsoft’s Office suite, including Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, and Pocket Outlook, as well as Notes, a note taking app with handwriting recognition.

The Pocket Internet Explorer browser saw improvements too, with features like “Shrink-to-fit” which resized web pages for small screens.

Infrared (IR) file beaming was also supported.

Best Device in class: Compaq iPAQ H3100

2001 – Pocket PC 2002

This release mainly targeted Pocket PC devices, although a Phone Edition of the OS included telephone functionality in addition to the PDA abilities.

Aesthetically, the Pocket PC 2002 OS was designed to look like Windows XP. WAP browsing support was added to Pocket Internet Explorer.

Best Device in class: Dell Axim X5

2003 – Windows Mobile 2003

Windows Mobile 2003 came with a lot of different editions, including Pocket PC Premium, Professional, Smartphone, and Pocket PC Phone.

It included a number of amazing features features such as VPN support, WiFi enhancements, and SMS APIs.

Best Device in class: O2 XDA II

2005 – Windows Mobile 5.0

Windows Mobile 5 was available in Pocket PC and Smartphone editions, the former included a touchscreen and MS Office, and the latter didn’t.

A new memory architecture was added for persistent storage: RAM was used for running programs, not for storage, in order to prevent data loss under power outage.

Best Device in class: Palm Treo 750v.

2007 – Windows Mobile 6.0

Windows Mobile 6 introduced a simplified naming scheme, with Classic, Standard, and Professional versions.

The Professional version was for smartphones equipped with touchscreens. However, the true classic was the Standard version, which ran on smartphones without touchscreens, along with PDAs and Pocket PCs.

New screen sizes of 320×320 and 800×480 were also supported.

Best Device in class: HTC Touch.

2008 – Windows Mobile 6.1

It was just a minor update on the previous version but it was very well received by users. It included a redesigned home screen, with a tile-based UI, and threaded SMS conversations.

Internet Explorer saw some improvements too, including full-page zooming.

Best Device in class: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

2010 – Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 was the last version of Windows Phone that supported Windows CE, as future versions moved to the Windows NT kernel.

Windows Phone 7 employed Microsoft’s Metro UI, a design language focused on typography and simplified icons, as well as Live Tiles, a fresh, colourful, tile-based home screen, with fluid transitions between screens. It looked markedly different to its predecessors, and offered a markedly unique alternative to Android and iOS.

It was during this update that Microsoft came up with minimum hardware specification for its mobile operating system, which mandated 5 physical buttons. The buttons were for the following functions: Start, back, search, camera, and power. CPU, GPU, screen, and connectivity requirements were also specified alongside.

Best Device in class: HTC HD7.

2012 – Windows Phone 8

Based on the Windows NT kernel, and sharing the code of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 release saw a unification of Microsoft’s mobile and desktop offerings, resulting in a more consistent experience for developers and users across all platforms.

Resizable home screen tiles, 720p HD screens, Internet Explorer 10 were the new features of this OS.

This operating system was also the start of the brief but famous collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft. The Lumia range of Nokia phones ran on Windows mobile operating system. The Lumia name came from the partitive plural of the Finnish word lumi, meaning “snow”

Best Device in class: Nokia Lumia 920.

2014 – Windows Phone 8.1

This version witnessed some key upgrades from the previous version. Cortana, Microsoft’s voice activated digital assistant, came to the platform, and brought voice-based search to Windows Phone.

A new notifications panel, called Action Center, was also introduced which vastly improved the notifications feature on the Windows Phone. It also featured the Internet Explorer 11.

Best Device in class: HTC One M8.

2015 – Windows 10 Mobile

This is the version that eventually ended up being the swansong for the Windows mobile operating system. This mobile operating system was aimed to unify and supply greater consistency with its Windows 10 desktop counterpart.

It came with the new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) which allowed apps to be built for and run across all Windows 10 devices, whether they were desktop, mobile, or console.

Syncing was also improved between devices. For example, a notification dismissed on a desktop would automatically be dismissed on the mobile as well.

Best Device in class: Microsoft Lumia 950 XL.

2017 – The beginning of the end for Windows Mobile.

In October 2017 Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Joe Belfiore, confirmed that due to low market-share and lack of third-party development, Microsoft will no longer sell or manufacture new Windows 10 Mobile devices. He also went on to add that existing users of the devices will only be able to receive security updates and minor bug fixes.