Yesterday, Microsoft officially ended its mainstream support for Windows Phone 8.1, the version of its mobile OS that it launched back in April 2014. At the time of its launch, it was quite a big deal, bringing in a huge range of exciting features, including a new notification center, an overhauled app store, better multitasking, enhanced management features for business, the well-liked Word Flow keyboard, and Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana.
By the second half of 2014, dozens of hardware partners had signed up to produce Windows Phones, and the future was suddenly looking rather bright for the platform. But as we discussed in our in-depth feature on Microsoft's mobile efforts last year, it was still too little too late. As its biggest rivals pushed ahead with exciting OS updates running on cutting edge devices with the latest hardware, Windows Phones were still playing catch up, and the OS continued to dwindle in popularity.
After Microsoft launched Windows 10 Mobile in 2015, the OS still lacked all sorts of features, and as with previous generations of its mobile platform, the company took far too long to make the improvements and additions that were needed. Unsurprisingly, only a handful of manufacturers released Windows 10 Mobile devices, and those that did struggled to get their handsets noticed in a world dominated by Android and iOS.
A question mark continues to hang over the future of Windows 10 Mobile. Vanishingly few devices are now available to buy with Microsoft's OS, and only 13 handsets officially support it now. For fans of the platform, the long slow demise of Windows phones is a sad end to a story that began in 2010, when Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 (Series), a beautiful new OS that some optimistically believed would become a bigger success than the iPhone.
But while those dreams have since been shattered, many still have fond memories of some of the devices that ran the mobile OS. Indeed, some of those Windows phones were really rather good.
As another chapter ends in Microsoft's troubled mobile story, it seems like a good time to look back on some of those devices and remember the good times. From the spectacular Lumia 1020, with its 41-megapixel camera, to the blindingly colorful Fujitsu-Toshiba IS12T, and the stylish HTC One M8 for Windows, there have been some very impressive Windows phones over the years.
But which Windows phone was the best? And why? Whether your rose-tinted gaze is firmly fixed on the earliest Lumias, or you think the newer Windows 10 Mobile devices are the cream of the crop, we're eager to hear your opinions on the best Windows handset ever. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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