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A Foolish Take: How iOS and Android Killed Windows Phone

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has dominated the PC operating system market for decades, but it has struggled to do the same with smartphones. Now, as IDC's first-quarter smartphone operating system report indicates, Microsoft's Windows Phone is officially dead.

Data source: IDC. Chart by author.

Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, its first multitouch mobile OS, in 2010 -- three years after Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduced the iPhone and two years after Google launched Android.

By the time Windows Phone 7 arrived, users and developers were already split between the iOS and Android ecosystems. Consumers bemoaned the lack of apps for Windows Phones, and developers shunned the platform's small user base.

Microsoft tried to strengthen Windows Phone by acquiring Nokia's handset division in 2014, but that disastrous move resulted in billions of dollars in writedowns. It tethered Windows Phone to PCs with a "One Windows" ecosystem and app store, but that move didn't convert many iOS and Android users.

Microsoft finally stopped supporting Windows Phone on July 11, officially surrendering the mobile hardware market to Apple and Google. Microsoft remains active on mobile devices via cross-platform apps, but it probably won't ever dominate phones in the same way it did with PCs.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GOOG, GOOGL, and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.