Microsoft several years ago acquired the popular iOS app Wunderlist with the intention of building out its own list-making productivity app that brings the best of Wunderlist’s feature set to a larger group of mobile consumers. This is a similar path as Microsoft took with email app Accompli, which later became Microsoft Outlook for mobile devices. In the case of Wunderlist, Microsoft didn’t just rebrand the app — it built a new one called Microsoft To Do.
Microsoft unveiled a redesigned To Do app on Last week that will replace Wunderlist, a mobile productivity app it acquired in 2015 for a price that was rumored to be between $100 million and $200 million. Microsoft did not provide any specifics about when the app might be shut down. Two days ago, Wunderlist founder Christian Reber tweeted at Microsoft asking for a chance to buy the app back, amid rumors it would be shutting down.
Last week, it appeared that wouldn’t be happening as Microsoft unveiled the revamped To Do app, drawing from some of the best design features of Wunderlist, including customizable backgrounds—including the popular Berlin TV tower background in Wunderlist—and smart tasks being shown in a single list.
The founder of Wunderlist maker 6Wunderkinder, Christian Reber, recently tweeted a desire to buy his app back from Microsoft just as the company is launching a new version of To Do.
According to the tweets, Reber says he’s serious about reacquiring Wunderlist and wants to make it open-source and free. He even tweeted a list of upgrades he’d like to build, including features like shared folders and cross-team collaboration, among other things.
The founder doesn’t come across as having sour grapes exactly. He just says he’s sad that his plans for Wunderlist didn’t work out, but he’s grateful for the Microsoft exit.
If anything, it seems to be just remorse over the fact that Wunderlist itself will be shut down.
Wunderlist’s sunsetting is hardly the first time a giant tech company has purchased a smaller company, stripped it for parts, or just decided to simply shut it down.
Facebook purchased tbh, an anonymous feedback app popular among teens, last October. While the founders are now Facebook employees, Facebook said in July it would shut down the app.
Slack bought Astro last September and shut down its email app, which included a built-in smart assistant. Slack has, of course, cemented its position as an email-killing communication platform.
Like Microsoft, there’s a long list of examples to draw from at Apple. The company famously acquired Beats Music and then shut down the streaming service in 2015 as it prepared to launch Apple Music.
While it’s a sad day for Reber, the Wunderlist founder, he tweeted that he has “nothing but gratitude” for Microsoft and called selling to them “definitely the best thing that ever happened to us.”
Microsoft had said years ago this was its intention, but also that it would hold off until it felt it has a competitive product that Wunderlist’s users would love.
On Monday, Microsoft unveiled another upgrade for Microsoft To Do, which hints that the Wunderlist shut down could be nearing.
The upgrade delivers a more polished look-and-feel with a wider range of backgrounds, including the Berlin TV tower theme that was popular in Wunderlist.
The app also includes smart lists and a personalized daily planner that offers smart suggestions of tasks that need to be accomplished, Microsoft reminded its users, and it’s supported across a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows and Mac.
The app is now also integrated with other Microsoft apps like Outlook, Microsoft Planner, Cortana and Microsoft Launcher on Android, among others. And it works with Alexa, if you prefer.
With the release, Microsoft is again pushing users to migrate from Wunderlist to To Do to gain access to these features.
It did not, however, give an end-of-life date for Wunderlist, which is remarkably still a top 100 Productivity app in the U.S. App Store, according to data from App Annie, over four years after its acquisition.
We’ve asked Microsoft if it will share more details around its plans for Wunderlist and if it has any response to Reber’s request.
“Once we have incorporated the best of Wunderlist into Microsoft To Do, we will retire Wunderlist. We look forward to making Microsoft To Do even more useful, intuitive and personal,” a Microsoft spokesperson replied. The company declined to comment on Reber’s tweets.
Microsoft To Do has been installed approximately 5.8 million times worldwide since launch, according to data from Sensor Tower. During that same time frame, Wunderlist was installed about 10 million times. As for Reber, he says he’s written to Microsoft