In spite of persistent efforts from Microsoft, its AI-based voice assistant, Cortana, has struggled to keep pace with its leading rivals, including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri. Having failed to make Cortana the go-to voice assistant app in spite of the massive installed user-base for Windows, the Redmond giant is now carrying out sweeping changes to the software with a focus on productivity.
Towards that end, Microsoft is deprecating several of Cortana’s consumer-oriented features, including the ability to play music and control smart home devices. The company is also ending support for Cortana in older versions of Windows. Most notably, Microsoft is also removing Cortana from the Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April. The announcement comes just weeks after the company removed the standalone Cortana app from the App Store in several countries as part of its plans to eventually kill off its digital voice assistant on both iOS and Android.
Meanwhile, the new productivity skills coming to Cortana will be delivered through Microsoft 365 and will follow all the privacy, security and compliance guidelines applicable to its Office 365 software suite, the company said in an official blog post on Friday. According to Microsoft, the new Cortana experience in Windows 10 will feature a chat-based UI that will give users the ability to interact with Cortana using either their voice or the keyboard.
“Cortana will assist you in better managing your schedule and tasks by staying on top of your calendar and focusing on what matters with meeting insights. You can speak or type requests to find people or files, or quickly create or query emails. You can also easily check your calendar, set a reminder, or add to your lists in Microsoft To Do. And Cortana will continue to help you get answers from Bing, set alarms and timers, open apps, adjust settings, or give you a joke you can share with colleagues, friends or family”, said the company.