Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers After Their Annual Performance Review

They’re not layoffs, the automaker says.

Electric automaker Tesla Motors fired hundreds of employees this week, including workers at its Fremont, Calif. factory and corporate managers, as it tries to solve production problems for its recently released Model 3.

An estimated 400 to 700 people were dismissed this week, according to a San Jose Mercury News report published Friday afternoon. That’s between 1% and 2% of the company’s more than 33,000 employees. Former and current employees told the Mercury News that little or no warning preceded the dismissals.

A Tesla spokesman would not confirm that number but told Fortune that the move follows its annual performance reviews, which typically involve both involuntary and voluntary departures.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesman said in an emailed statement. “This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

Tesla insists that the losses are not layoffs and that it plans to backfill the positions. That’s likely accurate, at least for jobs in California. State law requires companies to notify employees of layoffs through its WARN notification system. There are no records of new layoffs from Tesla. About 200 Tesla and SolarCity employees in the company’s Roseville, Calif. offices were notified Aug. 30 that they would be terminated.

The latest cuts come as the automaker tries to fix bottlenecks on the production line for its Model 3, an all-electric model designed to appeal to the masses. Earlier this month, Tesla reported that it produced 260 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, of which it has delivered 220. That figure is far less than CEO Elon Musk’s prediction that Tesla would produce more than 1,600 of the vehicles by September.

In July, Musk tweeted a production update for the Model 3, saying the car had passed all regulatory requirements ahead of schedule. After announcing that the first 30 customers would receive the Model 3s on July 28, Musk wrote, “production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1,500.”

Altogether, Musk said that third quarter production numbers for the Model 3 would be around 1,630 vehicles—a prediction off by 84%.

A Wall Street Journal report published earlier this month revealed that Tesla workers were assembling Model 3 vehicles by hand until at least early September. One of the “bottlenecks” Musk alluded to was a process that involved positioning and welding body panels by hand, rather than by precision robots, according to workers interviewed by the Journal.

Musk recently delayed the unveiling of an electric semi-truck until Nov. 16 so the company can focus its attention on production problems with its new mass-market car, the Model 3.

Tech

Future Versions of the Apple iPhone Could Take a Cue From Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Apple’s iPad Pro might not be alone.

Future version of the Apple iPhone might have a feature you can only find in the company’s iPad Pro tablets.

The tech giant is planning to bring “digital pen” support to iPhones starting in 2019, Korean news outlet The Investor is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company’s plans. Apple is working on the feature now and has already held talks with digital stylus companies to see how the feature might work with a future iPhone update, according to the report, which was earlier discovered by 9to5Mac.

Apple AAPL offers a digital stylus already called the Apple Pencil. However, the accessory, which is about the size of a real pencil, is only compatible with the company’s iPad Pro. Apple Pencil allows users to digitally “write” on the iPad Pro’s screen to annotate and sign documents, and take notes. Apple Pencil costs $ 99.

Apple’s chief competitor in the smartphone market, Samsung, has offered a digital stylus with its Galaxy Note line of devices for years. Its most recent smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8, similarly comes with the company’s S Pen stylus.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter

While some customers have called on Apple to offer a stylus, the company has been loath to do so after late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said when the iPhone was announced in 2007 that touch input is far superior to stylus input. And each time Apple has been called on to consider a stylus, the company has balked.

However, in recent years, Apple patents have surfaced that point to the company at least considering a stylus for its iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook also said last year in an interview with Apple-tracking site Daring Fireball that “if you’ve ever seen what can be created with that Pencil on an iPad or an iPhone, it’s really unbelievable.” His comment ignited speculation that Apple is testing a stylus for the iPhone

Still, Apple has remained silent on possible plans and hasn’t discussed bringing Apple Pencil to any other devices. And it’s also worth noting that two years is a long time in the technology industry. And although Apple might be considering iPhone stylus support for 2019, things can change and the concept could be scrapped without much notice.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment on the report.

Tech

Research Shows That Companies That Do This One Thing Increase Worker Productivity by 25%

When we think productivity, we rarely think of workplace design as a major contributor or detractor, but compelling ongoing research shows that it plays a much larger role than initially thought. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, an empowered office environment can increase worker productivity on cognitive tasks by 25%, and possibly more.

Workspace design today is undergoing a major creative shift. We’ve gone from cubicles (people are productive in isolation) to open-plan spaces (collaboration leads to success) to what I believe is the next major step – integrated multi-function design which recognizes that people need multiple spaces based on their ongoing and changing needs within a business day.

Instead of looking out across rows of cubicles, today’s office worker needs a mix of team meeting rooms, open lounge-like areas, and private workspaces.

This is the “empowered office” – an office in which workers can choose their work environment. It’s a design concept that’s gaining traction – and not only because it creates more pleasant workspaces. It also has a powerful influence on worker productivity.

Great office design isn’t just for startups anymore

Major tech companies and Silicon Valley startups were among the first to embrace the concept of the empowered office. The New York Times recently highlighted Microsoft for its forward-thinking office designs, which incorporate everything from “isolation rooms,” or soundproof private spaces, to comfy central lounges with large tables and couches.

What’s really exciting, however, is that this way of thinking about space – specifically, about the ways that spaces influence behavior – is becoming more mainstream.  

“The great thing we are seeing, as far as transformative spaces in the workplace, is that these principles are being adopted across all disciplines – all fields and industries,” says Architectural Designer Jared Skinner, co-founder at MADE Design. “Companies are realizing that these best practices are bolstering not only creative collaboration – often seen as a soft skill, but productivity and results. It’s impacting the bottom line.”

Striking the perfect balance between privacy and collaboration

When it comes to progressive, transformative workspaces. some of the most successful companies have been the ones that aren’t afraid to experiment.

At Microsoft, for example, designers began testing open team workspaces in one specific area in one building. Through experimentation, they learned that the spaces they’d started with were too open – they were built for 16 to 24 software engineers, and those who worked in them found them to be too loud and distracting.

Working with that knowledge, Microsoft then adjusted those team spaces till they held just 8 to 12 engineers, which the company – and more importantly, the employees – believe to be ideal.

To achieve higher productivity, then, companies must embrace the need for creativity and flexibility. They must allow themselves to try out new configurations and change them as needed, adding in more private spaces, perhaps, or bringing in standing desks, or creating smaller collaborative work stations.  

Workspace design must embrace our digital, connected reality

Just as today’s consumers are constantly connected, so are today’s workers. What’s more, they’re mobile – work no longer has to be tied to a desk or an office.

When designing workspaces, it’s crucial to take these realities into account. But it takes more than an espresso machine or a pingpong table to make your workspace truly progressive, and thereby productive. If you’re not baking the principles of empowerment, connectedness, and mobility into your office design at its most basic level, then you can easily end up with a workspace that feels gimmicky and disingenuous.

That’s not to mention that you won’t be reaping the real productivity benefits of empowered office design.

Integrated design is a must for attracting talent – especially among Millennials and Gen Z

Millennials and members of Generation Z take connectivity for granted in their workspaces, so companies that want to truly stay ahead of the pack must go further.

We need to create designs that engage members of these generations. This isn’t the old model of engagement, either – Millennials and Gen Zers have a completely unique approach to engaging with spaces that’s based on more than just technology. To be successful, companies must keep these new sensibilities in mind as they design or renovate their workspaces.

This shift in workplace design is both responding to and influencing the new ways we’re defining work in the digital age. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working at the intersection of design and branding, as we do at MADE.

To quote my co-founder, Jared Skinner, once more: “We’re living in an evolve-or-die day and age. Smart companies are being proactive and taking initiative to welcome this much-needed change.”

Tech

Bitcoin rockets above $5,000 to all-time high

LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin smashed through the $ 5,000 barrier for the first time on Thursday, jumping as much as 8 percent on the day as investors shrugged off the latest warnings on the risks of buying into the booming cryptocurrency market.

Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, has chalked up a more than fivefold increase in price this year.

Typically for bitcoin, which at less than nine years old is still highly volatile and illiquid compared with traditional currencies and assets, the precise reason for its recent tear was unclear.

Upcoming splits in its software, reports that Goldman Sachs is considering offering bitcoin trading, rumors that China could ease restrictions, and even a political crisis in Spain’s Catalonia region were all cited by market-watchers as reasons for the rally.

But the main factor could simply be demand from investors wanting ‘in’ on a market that has provided gains exceeding those of any other currency in every year bar one since 2010.

“People are just wanting to be part of it,” said Ryan Nettles, head of FX trading and market strategy at Swiss bank Swissquote, which launched bitcoin trading two months ago. Nettles said interest had been much higher than anticipated and has come from banks, hedge funds and brokers.

“The interest really stems from the media hype,” he added.

On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of the “serious risks” surrounding the nascent market, while Russia’s central bank said it would ban cryptocurrency trading websites.

But that was not enough to put investors off, with bitcoin rallying around 10 percent since then.

Data released last week from SEMrush, a search engine data analytics firm, found the price had a 91 percent correlation with Google searches on bitcoin, suggesting that all news — whether negative or positive — drives up demand, even if bad news can have a temporary negative effect.

Bitcoin almost reached $ 5,000 at the start of September, but fell back sharply after the head of Goldman Sachs blasted the cryptocurrency as a “fraud” and as China forced exchanges to close down, sparking fears of a broader crackdown.

But after dipping below $ 3,000 in mid-September, bitcoin has leapt in value by more than 75 percent in four weeks.

“Bitcoin was designed to operate outside of the influence of governments and central banks, and is doing exactly that,” said Iqbal Gandham, Managing Director at retail trading app eToro, which has seen huge increases in cryptocurrency trading volumes.

CRYPTO-RIVALS ALSO RALLY

By 1245 GMT, bitcoin was trading up 8 percent on the day around $ 5,200 on Luxembourg-based exchange Bitstamp.

Though there have been many warnings about a bitcoin “bubble”, including from European Central Bank Deputy Governor Vitor Constancio, some say it has much further to climb. But determining its value is difficult.

“For most currencies there are several accepted methodologies for estimating relative value, normally based on macroeconomic fundamentals,” said EFG Asset Management’s Global Head of Research, Daniel Murray. “For bitcoin no such fundamentals exist.”

Other cryptocurrencies — whose prices tend to be highly correlated to bitcoin — also rallied. Their total value — or market capitalization — climbed above $ 160 billion for the first time since early September, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.com.

Two upcoming “forks” in the bitcoin software code, which will create rival clones of the cryptocurrency, were seen by some as a reason for the rise in price, which saw a boost after the “Bitcoin Cash” clone was created at the start of August.

“Investors are seeing the lessons of history in the up-and-coming forks and hoping for an extra dividend,” said Charles Hayter, co-founder of data analysis website Cryptocompare, adding that rumors on online forums that China could reopen exchanges could also be affecting the price.

Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Catherine Evans

Tech

Some Charter Cable Subscribers May Lose MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon

Along with Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Viacom, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, said on Wednesday it was unable to come to a distribution deal with Charter Communications as part of its ongoing negotiations with the cable television distributor.

Charter’s Spectrum subscribers may see a disruption in service, Viacom said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Charter moved Viacom’s viab flagship networks to its most expensive programming tier, a move that threatened the media company’s affiliate and advertising revenue.

A spokesman for Charter chtr did not immediately return calls outside of business hours.

Tech

Italy state role in Telecom Italia could solve network tiff: PD's Orfini

ROME (Reuters) – Italy should play a role in resolving the gridlock over Telecom Italia’s (TIM) network assets, possibly by involving state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), president of the ruling PD party said in a position paper.

Italian politicians have been calling on and off since 2006 for TIM’s network to be transferred to a state-controlled entity as Rome considers it a strategic asset that should be a neutral platform open to all phone companies.

The heavily-indebted company has been criticized for putting off costly upgrades to its ageing copper network and is now facing competition from Open Fiber, jointly controlled by utility Enel and CDP.

The network issue returned to the forefront of political debate when French media group Vivendi built a 24 percent stake in TIM, becoming its top investor and increasingly calling the shots at Italy’s biggest phone group.

In the document published by online magazine Key4Biz, Matteo Orfini said the state needed to push for the creation of a single integrated network company and eliminate infrastructure rivalry which he called “unsustainable in the long term”.

“The status quo is not an option,” he said.

Listing a series of scenarios to resolve the network tiff, Orfini said a public or private Italian investor could flank Vivendi as a shareholder in TIM, to help sharpen the Italian phone group’s business focus.

He added that CDP could propose to buy part or all of Vivendi’s stake in TIM.

Orfini said Vivendi should be given the opportunity to give up control of Italy’s biggest phone group and instead focus on its plan to build a European media powerhouse, by involving broadcaster Mediaset, in which it has built a stake of just under 30 percent.

Plans to spin off TIM’s network, which according to some estimates could be worth up to 15 billion euros ($ 17.7 billion), have foundered in the past over its valuation and because TIM insisted on hanging onto the business.

Orfini said that while a spin-off might be difficult in the short term, the network could be separated into a regulated newco, fully controlled by TIM but legally distinct.

That move, along with some state participation in TIM, could facilitate a later integration with network rival Open Fiber.

TIM shares rose more than 3 percent after the position paper came out. The stock was up 2.1 percent at 0.77 euros by 1153 GMT.

TIM, which considers its network a strategic asset, declined to comment. Vivendi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Ken Ferris

Tech

The Race to Secure Voting Tech Gets an Urgent Jumpstart

Numerous electronic voting machines used in United States elections have critical exposures that could make them vulnerable to hacking. Security experts have known that for a decade. But it wasn’t until Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential campaigns and began probing digital voting systems that the topic took on pressing urgency. Now hackers, researchers, diplomats, and national security experts are pushing to effect real change in Washington. The latest update? It’s working, but maybe not fast enough.

On Tuesday, representatives from the hacking conference DefCon and partners at the Atlantic Council think tank shared findings from a report about DefCon’s Voting Village, where hundreds of hackers got to physically interact with—and compromise—actual US voting machines for the first time ever at the conference in July. Work over three days at the Village underscored the fundamental vulnerability of the devices, and raised questions about important issues, like the trustworthiness of hardware parts manufactured in other countries, including China. But most importantly, the report highlights the dire urgency of securing US voting systems before the 2018 midterm elections.

“The technical community … has attempted to raise alarms about these threats for some years,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, in a panel discussion. “Recent revelations have made clear how vulnerable the very technologies we use to manage our records, cast our votes, and tally our results really are … These findings from the Voting Village are incredibly disconcerting.”

Fortunately, the past few months have seen signs of progress. The Department of Homeland Security is moving forward with its critical infrastructure designation for voting systems, which frees up resources for helping states secure their platforms. The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit challenging the state’s use of digital voting machines. And in Virginia, state officials are converting voting systems to use paper ballots and electronic scanners before the November 7 elections. They say the change was motivated by the findings at DefCon’s Voting Village.

Susan Greenhalgh, an elections specialist for the vote-security group Verified Voting, which worked with Virginia officials this fall, applauded the “transition into real-world change” that had transpired in just the last few months.

Virginia and Texas represent important progress, but plenty of work remains. Five states still rely solely on digital voting machines without paper backups, and at least 10 states have mixed voting infrastructure, with certain counties that use digital voting without paper. These systems are the most vulnerable to manipulation, because you can’t audit them afterward to confirm or dispute the digital vote count in the case of suspected tampering.

“The one core point that election security experts and others have been making about why our votes are safe was that the decentralized nature of our voting systems, the thousands and thousands of voting offices around the country that administer the election, is what kept us safe,” Jake Braun, a DefCon Voting Village organizer and University of Chicago researcher said. “Because Russians [or other attackers] would need to have tens of thousands of operatives go get physical access to machines to actually infiltrate the election. We now know that’s false.”

With only a handful of companies manufacturing electronic voting machines, a single compromised supply chain could impact elections across multiple states at once. The Voting Village report emphasizes that there is a huge amount of change required in the US to address security issues at every point in the election workflow, from developing more secure voting machines to sourcing trustworthy hardware, and then actually setting up voting system devices and software for use in a secure way. DefCon founder Jeff Moss says that the goal for next year’s Voting Village is to have a full election network set up so hackers can evaluate and find weaknesses in a complete system, not just individual machines.

The Department of Homeland Security recently confirmed that Russia infiltrated various election-related systems in 21 states during 2016, and access to a full voting-system setup would give security researchers additional real world insight into defending US voting infrastructure. But as was the case with acquiring real voting machines for last summer’s conference, Moss says it has been extremely difficult to gain access to the third-party proprietary systems that states use to coordinate voting.

Related Stories

  • Brian Barrett

    America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Scarily Easy Targets

  • Lily Hay Newman

    The Simple Fix That’d Help Protect Georgia From Election Hacks

  • Andy Greenberg

    Hacked or Not, Audit This Election (And All Future Ones)

“I would love to be able to create any kind of a complete system, that’s what we’re aiming for,” he said during the panel. “The part that’s really hard to get our hands on is the backend software that ties the voting machines together to tabulate and accumulate votes, to provision voting ballots, to run the election, and to figure out a winner. And boy do we want to have a complete voting system for people to attack. There’s never been a test of a complete system—it’s just mind boggling.”

DefCon’s voting village and interdisciplinary partnerships are certainly raising awareness about election security and motivating change, but with some elections just a few weeks away and the midterms rapidly approaching, experts agree that change may not be coming quickly enough.

“We’ve got a lot to do in a short period of time,” said Douglas Lute, a former national security advisor to President George W. Bush and former US ambassador to NATO under President Barack Obama. “In my over 40 years of working on national security issues I don’t believe I’ve seen a more severe threat to American national security than the election hacking experience of 2016. Russia is not going away. This wasn’t a one shot deal.”

Tech

Netflix fends off criticism over Canada investment

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) said on Tuesday it had received formal approval to start a C$ 500 million production unit in Canada and sought to quell talk that it had asked for special tax benefits for investing in its first such unit outside the United States.

The maker of Emmy-winning shows such as The Crown and Black Mirror said last month it was in talks with the Canadian government for an investment over a minimum of five years.

That decision was part of a broad review under Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, which included plans to modernize funding programs and review copyright, broadcasting and telecommunications legislation.

The government did not tax Netflix as some had proposed, opening the streaming service provider to criticism in Canada. (bit.ly/2wLo4Ma)

Netflix said on Tuesday its Canadian investment was approved under the Investment Canada Act, and that no tax deals were part of the approval to launch its new Canadian presence. But is also said it was not paying sales tax in line with existing Canadian laws.

“Netflix follows tax laws everywhere we operate. Under Canadian law, foreign online services like Netflix aren’t required to collect and remit sales tax,” said Corie Wright, Netflix’s director of global public policy. (nflx.it/2yBTf11)

The company also said it would spend an additional C$ 25 million ($ 20 million) over five years toward “market development” in the country, hosting recruitment drives and cultural events to boost the local production community.

Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; editing by Patrick Graham and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

The US Postal Service Is Working on Self-Driving Mail Trucks

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds—and if the United States Postal Service has its way, the robots won’t stop them, either.

Yes, the agency you know best for bringing you junk mail addressed to whomever lived in your apartment before you has caught robofever. It plans to put semiautonomous mail trucks into service in just seven years, and it seems to think it can pull off a shift away from human driving without shedding mail carrier jobs.

That’s all according to the postal service’s Office of the Inspector General, which oversees the agency and last week released a report on its plans to work autonomy into its 228,000-vehicle fleet. Those plans are already in motion: The post office has partnered with the University of Michigan to build what it’s calling an Autonomous Rural Delivery Vehicle, which it wants to launch on 28,000 rural routes nationwide as early as 2025.

In this vision, the postal worker sits behind the wheel but lets the truck do the driving, sorting mail and stuffing letters and packages into mail boxes while rolling down the street. Eliminating the need to constantly park the vehicle, get out, then get back in and get back to driving would yield, the report says, “small but cumulatively significant time savings.”

This being a semiautonomous mail truck, the driver would have to be ready to take over control at all times. In the beginning, researchers say, this will be especially important while navigating from the post office to the beginning of the postal route, and while navigating intersections.

The postal service reasons the experimentation is less risky on rural routes, which have less traffic and fewer pedestrians and cyclists, “and are therefore more forgiving of an imperfect AV model.” It’s exactly the reason vehicle tech developers like Tesla and Cadillac have released semiautonomous features for highway-only driving. With wide, open, well-marked roads, it’s a much less complicated environment for a robot to navigate.

According to the report, Michigan researchers will deliver their first semiautonomous delivery truck prototype in December of this year. If all goes according to plan, the USPS will pilot 10 prototypes on rural routes in 2019, leading up to that full-scale, countrywide rural deployment between 2022 and 2025. The mail people also say they plan to look into city deliveries and building fully driverless vehicles, the kind that don’t need steering wheels or pedals.

You’ve Got Self-Driving Mail

One reason the postal service wants robocars? They could help solve its money problems. The agency lost $ 5.6 billion last year, mostly because Congress demands it shell out prefunded retiree health care benefits. (The idea here is that all employees’ health care will be completely paid for by the time they retire. No other agency operates this way.)

The report’s authors insist they’re not looking to dump human workers, and that AVs can help by trimming other costs. The agency paid about $ 67 million in repair and tort costs associated with vehicle crashes last year. It also shelled out $ 570 million for diesel fuel. If the robots perform as promised, making driving much safer and more efficient, those costs could plummet.

If the USPS sticks with this plan, the jobs of the nation’s 310,000 mail carriers could change, for better or worse. Once the vehicles do all the driving, the humans will be left with the sorting and the intricacies of the delivery process. Unless, of course, a robot can figure out how to do those too. And whatever the report says about protecting jobs, it’s clear that the best way to cut down on employee health care costs is to cut down on employees. The Postal Service says it plans to sit down with unions to discuss the implications of this tech after the University of Michigan delivers its prototype in December. (Those unions, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

But maybe the best reason for USPS to experiment with autonomous vehicles is to keep up with the Joneses. FedEx is investing in small autonomous vehicles that could make deliveries without the aid of human drivers. Amazon has an entire team dedicated to researching how autonomous vehicles (and drones) could transport its goods directly to customers. Google holds patents on unmanned truck delivery. DHL has posited driverless vehicles could be endlessly useful in warehousing operations, last-mile deliveries, and logistics operations. UPS has a test truck that shoots drones.

Which gets us back to one final idea floated by the USPS Office of the Inspector General in the report. Mail carriers drive the same exact routes almost every day. If the service kits out its vans with the right sorts of sensors, those vans could build and constantly update the incredibly detailed 3-D maps that help self-driving cars navigate—for a price, of course. Yeah, other startups and companies have been built expressly to collect and mine mapping data—but don’t count out the letter carriers. If rain and hail can’t stop them, why should the future?

Tech

Microsoft Has Given Up On Trying to Make Windows Phones a Thing

At least it will still put out security fixes.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone efforts are finally over, judging by a series of tweets from Windows 10 chief Joe Belfiore.

A few months back, Microsoft msft ended support for its Windows Phone 8.1 platform. However, that version was succeeded by Windows 10 Mobile—a more handset-friendly version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system.

Responding to questions from Windows Phone users on Sunday, Belfiore said Microsoft would still provide bug fixes and security updates for Windows 10 Mobile, but building new features and hardware is no longer a focus for the company.

It’s no surprise that Microsoft has turned its back on the smartphone operating system market. The firm laid off thousands of workers last year as it slashed the mobile business it had bought from Nokia in 2014—a purchase that led to a $ 7.6 billion write-off.

Last month, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates outed himself as an Android user. On Sunday, Belfiore said that he too had “switched platforms for the app [and hardware] diversity.”

The lack of app diversity on Microsoft’s mobile platforms was a big problem for the company. Developers of mobile apps, dealing with limited resources, go for the most popular platforms first in order to recoup their investments; without a hefty app roster, it’s near-impossible for an underdog platform to take on its larger rivals.

“We have tried VERY HARD to [incentivize] app devs,” Belfiore wrote. “Paid Monday… wrote apps 4 them… but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest.”

Tech