Microsoft May Lose Friends as it Limits Windows Phone Support

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Microsoft's(MSFT) decision to curtail customer support is not the best way to win friends, influence buyers, sell products or keep investors happy.

Microsoft, which declined 5.3% since the end of the third quarter, was gaining 0.4% to $28.15 this morning.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has generally been good about informing customers that they plan to stop supporting one of their older software titles. It makes sense that the company wouldn't continue updating Windows 95 or Office 2000 for more than a decade, even though support for legacy titles such as Windows XP seem to go on forever.

That's why it's disheartening that Microsoft today announced new timetable for supporting its Windows Phone operating systems. The software maker will now limit support for its Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 to a year-and-a-half. They explain it this way:

Windows Phone 8 support will end on July 8, 2014 while Windows Phone 7.8 support will cease two months later. Their plans for any possible "extended" support are vague.

So, how does this impact you and I? It's understandable that Microsoft wants to cut costs, but 18 months is six shy of the usual smartphone service contract that nearly user must sign with a major wireless provider. That means your phone will stop receiving updates before your two-year contract is up.

That's planned obsolescence, and can't be good for winning customers, especially considering that Micosoft's main competitors - Apple(AAPL) and Google(GOOG) - haven't pulled-back on software support. Yes, new updates from Apple and Google don't target older models but neither allows your phone to be outdated before you're done paying for it.

According to the latest numbers from Gartner, 70% of all smartphones sold worldwide run on Android or iOS. 3.5% run on Blackberry(BBRY) software and only 3.0% use Windows Phone OS.

Microsoft may want to reconsider this decision if it plans to win back market share.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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