Microsoft today announced upcoming changes for its cloud services intended for use in mobile apps. The Azure Mobile Services suite — which offers push notification capability, authentication, and data storage — will be discontinued in December 2016. Microsoft is encouraging people to move sites from Mobile Services to the Azure App Service, which offers similar functionality and will begin automatically migrating sites to App Service on Sept. 1.

The writing was on the wall. When Microsoft launched Azure App Service last year, the company emphasized that it would be able to support mobile apps as well as websites. That meant there would be overlap between App Service and Mobile Services, which was introduced in 2012. Back then, of course, it was known as Windows Azure Mobile Services, before Windows Azure, in a quasi-symbolic gesture, became Microsoft Azure. And, at least initially, Microsoft emphasized how the tools could work with Windows 8 and Windows Phone, in addition to iOS and Android.

“Over the past couple of years, we have been asked to provide features on Azure Mobile Services that were planned in Azure App Service — features like Hybrid Connections for accessing on-premises SQL services, Staging Slots to allow staging sites and A/B testing, co-located web site, Site Backup and Restore. Rather than duplicate features across multiple services, we consolidated Mobile Services with Azure App Service,” Azure App Service Mobile Apps senior program manager Adrian Hall wrote in the blog post announcing the news.

In the mobile backend world, Azure Mobile Services has faced competition from the Cognito service offered by public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services. Google Cloud Platform has Cloud Endpoints and Firebase. Facebook is in the process of shutting down its Parse mobile backend.

Here’s the timeline for the next few months, according to Hall’s blog post:

  • May: Microsoft starts sending out deprecation notices for Azure Mobile Services customers. New customers can no longer start using the tools. Those customers who have Mobile Services can still make new sites.
  • August: No customers can make new services with Azure Mobile Services.
  • September: Microsoft starts moving free sites from Azure Mobile Services to Azure App Service.
  • December: Azure Mobile Services becomes unavailable “by the end of the year.”