In October of 2016, the New York Police Department finished a two-year-long rollout of Windows-based smartphones to all of its 36,000 officers.
Now, less than a year after that $160 million initiative came to fruition, the NYPD is giving up and moving its officers to Apple iPhones.
"The NYPD has begun the process of transitioning to iPhones. The new devices will be deployed starting this fall, with the same applications that have led to an 8% reduction in response times," an NYPD spokesperson said.
The new iPhones, like the Windows phones they're replacing, were provided to the department at no cost, the spokesperson said, although the department had to pay for software and services. Despite replacing the phones, the overall cost of the police department's deployment of mobile devices is "45% under budget," the spokesperson added.
The news was originally reported by the New York Post.
The smartphones in question were already outdated by the time they got into most officers' hands — officers were given a Lumia 830 (released 2014) or a Lumia 640 XL (released 2015), running the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.
Microsoft officially discontinued support for Windows Phone 8.1 back in July 2017, meaning there won't be any changes to the platform or additional security updates. This was, reportedly, the impetus for the switchover.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's share of the smartphone market — never very high to begin with — has dwindled to as little as 0.1%, by some measures. Last quarter, Microsoft actually took a $1.8 billion tax gain related to the unwinding of its smartphone business, indicating that Windows phones are all but dead.
At least as of late 2016, the NYPD was discussing the possibility of perhaps moving at least some devices up to Windows 10 Mobile, the most recent iteration of the smartphone operating system. However, it seems that the NYPD has decided to skip that step and just go straight to new iPhones.
The Post's report indicates that the decision to go to Windows phones in the first place could have been the sole decision of one NYPD Deputy Commissioner, on the belief that they might work better with other Microsoft software being used within the department for video surveillance.
The Windows phones given to officers were loaded with apps for quickly reporting crimes and scanning police databases. Plus, the NYPD touted the fact that it was the first time officers had phone numbers they could actually give out to the communities they served.
There are rumors that Microsoft is planning some kind of smartphone comeback, possibly with a "Surface Phone." However, it doesn't seem like the NYPD, at least, is sticking around to find out.
“Microsoft is proud of our partnership with the NYPD. We will continue to support the NYPD’s Windows Phones," a Microsoft spokesperson tells Buisness Insider, though that spokesperson declined to comment on what that support will entail.
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