Here, whose Here Maps application was the foundation of Windows Phone mapping for years, has decided to pull out of Windows 10 Mobile development, the company said Tuesday.
Worse still, Here has decided to update its Windows Phone 8.1 map applications with critical bug fixes only. The maps themselves won’t be updated, which means their usefulness will degrade over time as the geographies evolve and change.
Here explained that its existing Windows 10 Mobile app was the result of a “workaround.” “To continue offering the Here apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store,” the company wrote in a blog post.
As a result, the Here Maps app will be pulled from the Windows 10 Mobile store on March 29, the company said.
Why this matters: Windows Phone fans have had to quietly sit by and watch as some of their favorite apps sadly depart the platform. In December, messaging app Line bought MixRadio, essentially the predecessor to Microsoft’s own Groove Music. On March 11, MixRadio announced that it was closing down, and made one final “farewell mix” for its fans. “So will the service just stop?” a MixRadio FAQ asked. “Yes,” was the reply. MixRadio had served Windows since 2007. Here provided map apps for Windows since 2011. Those days are over.
Windows Maps to the rescue
Here is now owned by a triumvirate of car makers: Audi, BMW, and Daimler, and the company has prioritized installing its mapping applications inside their cars. In 2014, Here executives said they would begin winding down Windows Phone development and prioritize Android and iOS, two markets it planned to move into at the time.
Coincidence or not, Here’s decision anticipated the slow decline of Windows phones’ market share, down to about 1 percent worldwide. Here is one of the few app developers actually leaving the platform; the more common strategy has been for developers to simply refuse to update existing Windows Phone 8.1 apps. An exception has been Instagram, which this month published a beta for Windows 10 Mobile.
On Tuesday, Here graciously pointed users to Windows’ own Maps application, which Microsoft has invested heavily in over the past few years. Still, Microsoft’s Maps app seems to work best on Windows 10, which means that users who stick with Windows Phone 8.1—or who must wait until Microsoft moves the older platform to Windows 10—will be stuck with an essentially defunct app.