Note that I'm not talking about the core OS - Windows 10 Mobile ('W10M' for short) still works just 'fine', it's still getting monthly security updates and essential bug fixes. And it'll be fine until well into next year (phones currently on the Spring Creators Update (1703) will stop getting these updates next Spring, for example).
But what about the core services that Microsoft provides to its users? Here the situation is somewhat muddier.
Here's my breakdown of their current status, as seen from Windows 10 Mobile Fall Creators Update (1709):
|OneDrive||Still working well under W10M, no issues, other than serving up images, as mentioned below.|
|Photos||Still working brilliantly on the whole, though this entire feature was sparked by online images (in 'Skydrive Camera Roll' on OneDrive) not being reliable - as I write this, I'm getting lots of 'i' icons and missing thumbnails in Photos. And trying to tap one gives a 'We can't access file xxxxx at the moment. Please try again later' - I'm hopeful that Microsoft will fix this on the servers, since it's a showstopping issue for me personally, a shutterbug who likes having an online pool of images that I've taken and which can be accessed from any signed in phone/computer.|
|Maps||We were promised up to date Maps in 'summer' 2018 and, to be fair, it's only the start of June as I write this, but despite regular map database updates in Settings, the underlying road data in many countries is very stale. My 'canary' (new) roundabout, built well over a year ago in the West Country, is nowhere to be seen, ditto another canary (new) road in Taunton, opened in 2017 - and these two road features shave 15 minutes off some journeys for me - how can their presence still not be shown?|
|Store||'Barely adequate' is what my report card would read for the Microsoft Store. Applications sometimes fail to install with obscure error messages, and when they do start to install, the sequence of 'Acquiring license', 'Preparing download' and other messages always seems to take several times longer than it should. Then there are all the Xbox and Desktop applications and games which are now listed, even in the Store on phones, which muddy the waters.|
|Microsoft Teams||Launched as a cross-platform business chat and collaboration system, this had a working UWP app for W10M, but it is now being removed from the Store (July) and will stop working in October 2018. You could argue that Teams never really had a chance under W10M, since it arrived after Microsoft pulled the plug on phone production, but it's still a crying shame that Microsoft's flagship Slack competitor won't even be available for its own mobile platform.|
|Outlook email||This continues to work fine, even with 'Focused Inbox' for most people, though W10M users aren't getting any of the newer bells and whistles being introduced recently, including visual effects and links to Outlook Premium.|
|PIM data||PIM data sync - Contacts and Calendar - largely works very well, though setting up a new device sees very slow sync times - it can take hours for all entries to come over, and I've no idea why something so simple is this tardy.|
|OneNote||Again, this works - and syncs - just fine, but there have been no extra features or enhancements for years. All current development will be against the Redstone 3 and Redstone 4 APIs and so W10M will miss out.|
|Skype||Ah yes, Skype. It kind of works most of the time. Is that fair enough? Calls, messaging, even handling SMS. And the UWP app under W10M has received many updates, though most of these are fixing issues with previous updates, so... Still, it's hard to be too critical of Skype - look at the mess Google has made of trying to offer something similar over the last five years...|
|We've had the public shuttering of Microsoft's first party music subscription and track-buying services, though every platform needs a native music player and Groove Music UWP works very well on the whole under W10M. The only issue I've ever had is a short delay before a track starts, which seems to be more OS dependent in terms of the app getting hold of system resources.|
|Cortana||This works very well on the whole still, answering all my questions as well as it ever did. The only area we've lost is music recognition, which I suspect relied on the Groove Music commercial services mentioned above.|
|Office 365||Word, Excel, Powerpoint still work very well indeed (for a phone-sized screen!), though again there haven't been any significant features added to the W10M versions in the last year or so. Integration with OneDrive is still top notch.|
|Microsoft To-Do||This cross-platform service continues to get client updates under W10M, though with fairly minor improvements (the last was hierarchical to-dos) across all platforms - I get the impression that the team behind this service (and app) is quite small.|
|The News and Weather apps and services continue to do very well under W10M, with active live tiles and always plenty of interest. No complaints.|
images of the day
|As highlighted many times (e.g. here), these are updated daily, often beautiful and a highlight of the Microsoft ecosystem. Implemented on Android if you pick the Microsoft launcher, but 100% integrated under W10M and a terrific experience.|
||I had to put this row in, for completeness, but Microsoft Wallet/payments never really took off (just a trial in the USA?) Setting up agreements with thousands of banks across the world is a huge endeavour and I can only think that Microsoft did the sums and worked out that there weren't going to be enough people needing a Microsoft-centric NFC payment system. It would have made for good PR and proved W10M's worth, but it would have lost a lot of money overall.|
|IoT control||There have been a few third party WP8.1 and W10M applications for controlling specific Internet-of-Things devices (including talking to the likes of Google's Chromecast), but nothing with general compatibility with any of the 'standards' in the IoT world. This entire ecosystem went mainstream after active development of Windows 10 Mobile was stopped, mind you, so it's unsurprising that this is a gaping hole in Microsoft's app and services ecosystems.|
You can see where I got the headline from, at least. The array of services above is certainly not all doom and gloom, there are plenty of highlights. But there are also things which are breaking too often and not always being repaired, services and apps which are about to be withdrawn, error messages that come and go, data that's in desperate need of refreshing, and generally a clear lack of TLC (Tender Loving Care) from Microsoft.
Which is, perhaps, what we'd expect at this stage in Windows 10 Mobile's life cycle. Few things in life end in a bang, most end in a whimper. And with this 'death of a thousand cuts' I think that W10M is going this way. (Maybe even AAWP too, you'll have noticed frequent short bursts of downtime, for which we're sorry, and Rafe is going to try to find time to fix the site's code once and for all.)
I'll report on this again later in 2018, of course, by which time we all hope that we'll have the next generation (Andromeda/Surface Mobile) to report on, albeit not for the mass market in the same way as 'Lumia' was aimed.