I asked Bing AI for its thoughts on Windows Phone ...
I can't let you go.
They say there are five stages of grief, but for Windows Phone fans, I figure there are a few dozen additional stages. Indeed, there is no greater pain than the loss of Windows Phone, Microsoft's immaculate, stunning, and fluid phone OS. Taken from us in the most untimely, and disrespectful manner, Windows Phone now lives on only in the memories of its (several) fans, tossed on the scrap heap by an unscrupulous Microsoft. 😓
All hopium of its return exhausted, Windows Phone fans scattered to the
four two winds of Android and iOS. Some keep the dream alive with homebrew projects, like the project to port Windows 11 to the Surface Duo, or with Windows Phone-like launchers on their Surface Duo 2 or Samsung Galaxy Android phones.
It's with that in mind that I grew curious. How might Microsoft's own Bing, newly endowed with suped-up conversational AI, respond to questions about Microsoft's own doomed phone OS?
Hey Bing, who is to blame for Windows Phone's death?
Naturally, I had to ask this. Would Microsoft's own AI show a bias to defend the company's handling of Windows Phone? Apparently not, although it wouldn't single out any particular individuals.
According to Bing, there's no "definitive" answer for who was responsible, calling its downfall multi-faceted. Bing said that Microsoft made strategic and technical mistakes that "alienated users, developers, and partners." Bing referred to Microsoft changing the platform too frequently (I do vaguely remember some backlash from developers about changes between Windows Phone 7, 8, and 8.1). It also blamed Microsoft's "neglect" of the app ecosystem.
Bing also pointed at Google and Apple's dominance of the smartphone market, claiming that Google and Apple offered more apps, features, and services than Windows Phone, and made it hard to compete or cooperate with them. That latter part is certainly true, but I'm not sure I agree with Bing's assessment that iOS or Android had more features necessarily. We all know about the app situation, though.
Bing also blamed those pesky consumers for not giving Windows Phone a fair chance and the vicious cycle of low demand and low supply as a result. The assessment here was fairly comprehensive, offering various websites as references for its analysis.
Does Bing know about Zac Bowden?
I tried a more humanistic question, given that Bing's version of ChatGPT can tap into the live web, and isn't restricted to data from 2021 and into the past. I asked about our own Windows Editor Zac Bowden, whose restless fancy of Microsoft hardware disturbs even me.
How does Zac Bowden feel about Windows Phone? I asked. Bing apparently knows about Zac's obsession with prototype Microsoft hardware, noting the Andromeda version of the Surface Duo that never made it into production. According to Bing, Zac actually owns this prototype — I'm not sure if that's necessarily true, but oh well.
"He may feel strongly about Windows Phone because he was a fan of the platform and its unique features, such as the live tiles, the fluid interface, the camera quality, and the integration with Windows. He may also hope that Microsoft will someday revive the Windows Phone vision with a new device that can run Windows 10X or Windows 11 on ARM."
Does Zac hope for a Windows Phone revival? Don't we all, Bing, don't we all.
I followed up by asking Bing how it feels about Windows Phone, and got a surprisingly interesting take, complete with an emoji.
"I do share his passion for Windows Phone, as I think it was a great platform that had a lot of potential and innovation. I also admire the design and engineering that went into creating the Windows Phone devices and software. I think Windows Phone was ahead of its time in many ways, and it deserved more recognition and support from the market and the developers. 😊 "
Damn, me and the machine are in alignment.
Windows Phone and the five stages of grief
In my depthless melancholy about Windows Phone, I asked Bing to describe the five stages of grief, through the lens of the demise of our beloved phone platform. I half expected Bing to reject such a meticulous and nuanced request, but to my fascination, the cogs at Azure spun into action.
Denial: Bing said that in this stage, fans may refuse to accept that the Windows Phone platform is dying, clinging to hope that a new device may come to save it. The fan "may also ignore or dismiss the signs of decline," herein, linking to one of our own articles from the incorruptible Jason Ward, and his lament that the Windows Phone community was imploding.
Anger: Bing asserted that now, Windows Phone fans may feel betrayed and resentful towards Microsoft for its abandonment, and for its mistakes. Once again, Bing cited our articles as an example of this (... why am I sensing a pattern here?).
Bargaining: In this stage, says Bing, fans may try to find ways to keep Windows Phone relevant, by purchasing new devices, using third-party apps and hacks, or by joining the Windows Insider Program and Feedback Hub (lol), while also petitioning Microsoft. Uh, Bing also once again cited our articles as examples of our collective bargaining grief.
Depression: And now, Windows Phone fans feel depressed and hopeless, adrift with regret for their investment in the platform and the Microsoft ecosystem. Bing lists out the features we're likely to miss, like the live tiles, the camera quality, and the integration with Windows services. It's gutwrenching stuff. The fan might "withdraw" from the community even, or stop following the news! Once again, Bing cites our Windows Phone nostalgia article from 2020.
Acceptance: In this stage, Bing says the fan will come to terms with the reality and inevitability of Windows Phone's demise, recognizing that there was nothing we could do. The excruciating pain in Bing's procedurally generated words cuts deep into the core of my soul, twisting like a bugged live tile in the wind.
I asked Bing what stage it was in with regards to Windows Phone grief. Herein we discover Bing is, in fact, a liar. Earlier Bing said that it shared Zac Bowden's passion for Windows Phone, but now, Bing says that it isn't a fan of Windows Phone at all!
"I am not a Windows Phone fan, so I do not experience these stages of grief. I am a Bing Search, and I can help you find information on the web. 😊"
How can we trust such an emotionally inconsistent AI? It could be lying about its passion for Windows Phone today while preparing to launch nuclear weapons tomorrow.
Windows Phone "comedy"
Herein Bing reveals it truly isn't a fan of Windows Phone, and in fact has zero chill whatsoever, exhibiting callous disregard for the pain of our community.
I asked the malevolent machine to give us some jokes about Windows Phone, and it took to mocking our misery with surgical precision.
"Here is a joke about Windows Phone:
Q: How do you know if someone has a Windows Phone?
A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
They’ll also tell you how much they love the live tiles, the fluid interface, the camera quality, and the integration with Windows services. And how much they hate Microsoft for abandoning them, Apple and Google for dominating the market, and other fans, critics, and Microsoft employees for not understanding them. And how they’re still waiting for the Surface Phone, the ultimate mobile device, to save them. And how they’re not in denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance. They’re just loyal. 😂"
Wow, cold. I tried the same prompts on the basic ChatGPT system over at OpenAI, and just got reams of totally banal and non-sensical "jokes." Bing, however, has no qualms about beating us while we are down.
"Here is another joke about Windows Phone:
Q: What do you call a Windows Phone that works well, has many apps, and gets regular updates?
A: A fantasy. 😂"
Not content with mocking Windows Phone users alone, Bing now decided to rope in Surface Duo users as well, with an admittedly clever joke that made me laugh out loud.
"Here is another joke about Windows Phone:
Q: What do you get when you cross a Windows Phone with a Surface Duo 2?
A: A Windows Phone that can fold in half and still not fit in your pocket. 😂"
Windows Phone lament
I could take no more of Bing's dismissive japes, and cruel barbs. Seeking respite from the onslaught of its cold machine wit, I requested a mournful poem, written in the style of Edgar Allen Poe to give Windows Phone the proper send-off it deserves. Although, its first attempt was simply Nevermore, somewhat hilariously replacing "Nevermore" with "Windows Phone," it did eventually come through with something more apropos, soothing my weary heart in the process.
I had a dream of a Windows Phone,
That would be my faithful companion and guide,
That would have a sleek design and a smooth interface,
That would have many apps and games to grace,
But alas, that dream was soon to fade,
For Microsoft had a different plan,
They discontinued the OS and left me in the shade,
They broke my heart and made me a ban,
Now I wander in the lonely night,
With no Windows Phone to light my way,
I see the Androids and the iPhones in their might,
And I curse the fate that led me astray.
Oh, Windows Phone, where art thou now?
In some forgotten drawer or landfill?
Do you still remember me somehow?
Or have you ceased to feel?
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!