Since Microsoft's Joe Belfiore took to Twitter earlier this week and stated that their current Windows phone operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, would no longer be a priority for the company, users have taken to social networks such as Twitter and Reddit in a panic over the apparent death of the Windows phone platform.
It's no secret that support for Windows phone has been on a decline by both app developers and users for a while now but this series of tweets seems to have been the nudge many had needed to jump ship to an iPhone or Android device. Things had never looked worse for Windows phone than they had this week which is why what happened to me tonight has me so intrigued. Cortana, on my own personal Windows phone (Lumia 950 for those that are curious) basically popped up and told me that Windows phone isn't dying just yet. You can see a screenshot of it below.
This Cortana notification was a news alert for the topic Windows phone, which I follow in both the News app and subsequentially in my Cortana Notebook as well (the two are linked). The article that was sent to me by Cortana was one from PC Mag that essentially explains why people are overreacting and misinterpreting Belfiore's tweets and how it's a pretty safe bet that Microsoft will release a new mobile device in the near future.
So what? It's just a News alert, right? Not really. Here's why.
- I've been using a Windows phone for almost three years and I've had this model in particular for around two. In all of that time, I've never received a Cortana alert. EVER. This is the first time I've gotten one. I simply don't use Cortana and have almost all of its settings disabled.
- I have around 15 other custom news topics added within the News app (Cortana's Notebook). For whatever reason, the Windows phone category was used for this alert.
- This article was published on the site at 7:40am this morning. This "Breaking" news alert popped up on my phone at 9:08pm, almost 14 hours after it was published, which suggests that it was somehow pushed out to myself and possibly others manually. It's not a legit breaking story such as the ones that get pushed out with a non-Cortana notification from the News app (such as a death of a celebrity or North Korean missile tests).
- In addition to it not being breaking, this article isn't even a news article. It's an opinion piece.
- In the Windows phone category in the News app, there are several articles from other websites ranked above this one, all of which say something along the lines of "Windows Phone is Dead". In Cortana itself, the featured Windows phone news story is one about Windows phone dying and why everyone should choose Android. When 95% of the articles in the category focus on the death of the platform, it's extremely odd that one about it surviving would have been chosen by whatever algorithm Cortana uses.
- The timing. It's really hard to believe that such an article would have been chosen randomly within days of Belfiore's tweets and all of the talk in the media about Microsoft abandoning mobile.
This alert could have been a random glitch but the fact that I've never received a Cortana news alert before, the nature of the article, and its timing, it really does seem like someone somewhere selected it and made sure it was seen by users as a form of damage control.
Despite all of the clues hinting at a future mobile device from Microsoft (i.e. Surface Phone), the company and its employees have been deliberately vague about confirming anything being in development. Pushing out an article that reflects their messaging could be the perfect way to quell fears of Windows phone's death without publically making an official statement about a future product.
What do you think? Was this just some weird coincidence or is Microsoft trying to change the Windows phone narrative? Do you have a custom Windows phone news category and did you get this alert? Let us know in the comments below. The truth is out there.