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Microsoft is killing Windows Phone's Rooms group chat

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When Windows Phone 8 launched back in 2012, one of the biggest new features was Rooms, an extension to the People hub that let users hold conversations and share photos, notes, and calendars in private groups. It evidently didn't make much of a splash, however, as Microsoft has announced that it's ending support for the service next month. "We're making way for new features in Windows 10 that will help you stay in touch with the people that matter most," the company says in an email.

Rooms will cease to function altogether on existing Windows Phones

Windows Phone 8 users will still be able to view their existing rooms, but they won't be able to create new ones or send any messages from March. For those that update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones, the rooms will be removed entirely. It was clear that the feature wasn't present in the preview build released last week, but Microsoft's statement confirms that not only will it never make it to future versions of Windows 10, it will cease to function altogether on existing Windows Phone devices.

Although the move will annoy those who'd gotten used to using Rooms, it's probably the right one for Microsoft to make in the long run. A group chat feature that relied on all its members using Windows Phones for full functionality doesn't fit with the company's more open-minded strategy of putting its software on various operating systems — especially when it owns GroupMe, a robust but rarely promoted cross-platform messaging service. Time will tell to what extent Microsoft plans to bake messaging into the final build of Windows 10, but it's likely to reflect the reality that most PC users won't own Windows phones.