Microsoft is continuing to make moves in the health and fitness area that are leaving many confused.
The latest: Microsoft is dropping the existing Windows Phone version of its HealthVault app and seemingly has no plans to develop a version for Wndows 10 Mobile.
Microsoft began notifying existing Windows Phone HealthVault users of its plans on September 22 via an email letter. (Thanks to Mark Noble for tweeting a copy of that letter.)
The letter from the HealthVault team claimed that Microsoft has recently "seen some issues with the app due to compatibility problems.""We want to continue to provide a reliable HealthVault experience for Windows Phone, which we believe will be best delivered through the HealthVault website," said the note. "We will therefore be ending our support for the app and removing it from the Windows Phone Store."The team said the removal of the app "has no impact on the information you store on HealthVault, which we encourage you to access using the HealthVault website ((https://account.healthvault.com).
I asked Microsoft for some clarification as to what's happening. The official statement, which doesn't really shed any new light on what's happening:
"Microsoft is ending support for HealthVault on Windows Phone and removing it from the Windows Phone Store. Support for our other apps, including Windows and iOS, remain unaffected. Information stored within HealthVault is not impacted and data can be accessed via the HealthVault website (https://account.healthvault.com)."
It's worth noting there is no HealthVault app for Android and Microsoft officials are not saying when and if there will be one. Also the version of HealthVault that works on Windows 8 and 10 is not a Universal Windows Platform app.
The version of HealthVault app that's being pulled was only available in the Windows Phone store. And, as us former and current Windows Phone users know, there aren't many Windows Phone users out there. There are also some third-party mobile apps in the Store that do allow Windows Phone users to access and update their HealthVault data.
HealthVault is not the same as Microsoft Health. And Health does not require HealtVault -- or vice versa. However, as noted on Microsoft's Health website: "Because we share core principles, HealthVault features prominently in our broad vision for Microsoft Health." (That statement makes me think HealthVault is sticking around.)
Microsoft Health is a an activity-tracking/fitness service. HealthVault is a service for storing individuals' health and medical records and information so they can be shared with health professionals. Microsoft HealthVault predates MicrosoftHealth. Microsoft launched a beta of HealthVault in 2007 and went live with the service in 2009.
Recently, Microsoft renamed the Microsoft Health app to Microsoft Band. That news came on top of rumors that Microsoft is planned to cease making new Microsoft Band fitness devices. My contacts said Microsoft renamed the "Microsoft Health" app to "Microsoft Band" in order to pave the way for a possible new Microsoft Health app that won't require Microsoft Band devices.
So what to make of Microsoft dropping the Windows Phone version of HealthVault? Again, I think the priority for Microsoft is in beefing up and recasting its Microsoft Health service as a multi-platform offering that supports devices of all types, not just Microsoft's own. Windows Phones, with their continuing dwindling market share, just don't matter a whole lot to Microsoft's evolving Health service vision.