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A New Lease of Life for Cortana

When we think about AI powered personal assistants, our thoughts often turn straight to Alexa or Siri which are widely used and easily accessible to most people and households these days. Cortana was produced in 2014 to compete with these AIs and was to be the next big thing. Though this never really happened, since Windows mobile phone died out and they had no home devices such as Google’s Nest family or Amazon’s Alexa it was much harder to compete.

They rolled out the app across Android and iOS which never really took off, only being installed around 1 million times on Android devices. They attempted a home device much later than other large brands, the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker, which they have now updated so it doesn’t have access to Cortana. A true blow for those who spent around $199 RRP on them. They are however offering a consolation offer of a $50 gift card for those who now own simply an expensive Bluetooth speaker.

Ben Wood, chief analyst at research firm CSS Insight said: "There was a certain inevitability to Microsoft abandoning the consumer-centric variant of Cortana. Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant are the mass market voice assistants of choice, leaving little space for rivals.”

Microsoft have announced they will no longer have Cortana support on iOS and android and have revamped and repurposed Cortana into a productivity assistant. Moving away from the typical music integration and third-party skills and apps such as searching for somewhere to eat or home automation that were previously available, it will now be centred around users of Microsoft 365’s suite and assisting with tasks such as coordinating meetings or checking mail. This is an evolutionary change as it will complement Microsoft’s existing products and allow them to fine-tune the more corporate side of Cortana. Microsoft Teams, which has been used more frequently for online meetings, and Outlook will be assisted by Cortana and will provide a hands-free experience for those who have busy schedules and need reminders or even having their emails read out.

“Your personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365. Cortana helps you achieve more with less effort while allowing you to focus on what matters.” The new description of Cortana on the Microsoft website.

This new era of Cortana could possibly become the future of at-home or in office work, and it makes for a less competitive component towards the likes of Google Home. With a smaller number of features available, it opens up a range of possibilities of what Cortana could do in the future and may well take off with businesses as new features revolving around education and productivity are rolled out.

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