End of the Line for Windows 10 Mobile, Builds to Remain on “Feature2” Branch

Windows 10 Mobile Surface Mobile Surface Phone

Windows 10 Mobile will no longer receive Insider builds on the Redstone 3 branch. The company has confirmed that it will stay indefinitely on the “Feature2” branch. The feature2 branch was initially thought to be a temporary build branch for Windows 10 Mobile, but it now looks like that is its final resting place.

To elaborate, Redstone 3 is the branch on which PC builds are pushed, and that’s the one that will eventually become Windows 10 Fall Creators Update due later this year. Feature2, on the other hand, is only getting minor bug fixes and such. No new features are being rolled out.

As it is, only a limited set of Windows 10 Mobile devices are eligible for feature2 branch builds. Now that these devices will remain on this branch, it does look like the end of the line for Windows 10 Mobile.

Microsoft has reportedly working on a refresh of Windows Mobile, and it’s not Windows 10 on ARM. According to Brad Sams on Thurrott.com last month, Microsoft is apparently developing its own hardware for a new branch of Windows Mobile.

That conflicts with popular opinion that Windows 10 on ARM is the natural successor to Windows 10 Mobile, which will have eventually have to be killed off, anyway.

Be that as it may, what’s unclear at this point is whether or not Microsoft will bring this new Windows Mobile build to older devices that are currently on the feature2 branch. It’s not very likely.

What’s more likely is the killing off of support for Windows 10 Mobile (eventually) and perhaps a new avatar of Windows Mobile that’s different from the Windows 10 on ARM initiative.

At this point, the only confirmed future scenario is the one with Windows 10 on ARM, since Microsoft and Qualcomm have already announced it, and major hardware makers like HP, Lenovo and ASUS are already onboard as OEMs for the first generation of devices.

The yet-unnamed branch of Windows Mobile on Microsoft-designed hardware may or may not make it to the market, depending on how revolutionary it actually is. Microsoft is certainly not going to release anything that looks remotely like a Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile device unless they can deliver it with a proper win32 desktop app experience – or at least a much more robust Continuum functionality.

The most likely outcomes are either a Windows 10 on ARM experience on mobile devices, and another Microsoft-branded (or, more likely, Surface-branded) Windows Mobile device with superior capabilities – or, just the mobile devices with Windows 10 on ARM until they’re ready to unveil the other project.

We’ve got to keep in mind that Microsoft will be very wary of releasing a lackluster product that merely does what other, similar devices on the market do. That’s out of the question, which is why their options are fairly limited at this point.

An internally developed device with a new Windows Mobile branch is exciting to hear about, but since there’s no visibility on that, we’ll have to wait and see what develops over the coming months. Could that be the real Surface Phone? We don’t know yet.

In the meantime, it looks like Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM initiative for “Surface Mobile” is gradually taking shape, and will possibly lead to a device launch at the end of the year, as indicated by Qualcomm’s CEO at their last earnings call.

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