Belfiore, who worked on Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile until 2016, announced he’ll be leaving Microsoft next summer after 32 years.
Joe Belfiore, who is best known by Windows Phone fans for leading development on the platform alongside Windows 10 in the early days of the OS, has announced he will be retiring from Microsoft next summer. The news comes 32 years after Belfiore first joined the company, initially working on the Windows and Internet Explorer user experience starting in 1990. The announcement was announced via an internal email to Microsoft employees (made public by ZDNet).
Belfiore started working on Windows Phone since 2009, leading development of the Metro interface that the platform became best known for, which would eventually make its way to Windows 8 as well. With Windows 10, Belfiore transitioned to leading development of the platform on all kinds of consumer devices, including Windows 10 PCs and tablets, as well as Windows 10 Mobile, which was the successor to Windows Phone 8.1. Windows 10 also brought things like Cortana from Windows Phones to PCs.
Of course, when talking about Windows Phone, it’s easier to remember the promises of the platform and its failures in the end. Windows Phone as a platform was always on something of an unstable road. Despite initial promises made by Belfiore, Windows Phone 7 devices couldn’t be updated to Windows Phone 8, which burned many customers at the time. Similarly, the transition from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile left the majority of Nokia Lumia devices behind, despite Microsoft originally promising most or all of existing Windows Phone 8.1 devices would be supported. Belfiore ultimately confirmed in 2016 that Windows 10 Mobile would no longer be receiving any new features, only getting security updates from that point forward. Since then, the focus for Windows 10 and Windows 11 has been mostly on PCs.
Joe Belfiore demonstrates Continuum for phones at the Microsoft Build conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 29, 2015(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Prior to Windows Phone, Belfiore worked in various positions at Microsoft, working on Windows Media Center and – albeit briefly – the Zune platform. Belfiore left the Windows division in 2020, and he’s become lead of the Microsoft Office Experiences division at Microsoft, leading development on apps that are part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, including new additions like the recently-launched Designer. Additionally, Belfiore is vice president of the Experiences and Devices division at Microsoft.
According to an internal e-mail, Belfiore is retiring to focus on spending time with his family. Before he retires, Belfiore says he’ll be helping with the transition, teasing that there is “so much goodness coming”. His role will be taken over by Aleš Holeček, Corporate Vice president of the Office Product Group at Microsoft.