Microsoft Cortana, the once-ubiquitous and deeply integrated always-on virtual assistant in Windows 10, is being increasingly scaled back on multiple platforms. A new ‘Cortana Experience’ will largely replace the earlier ‘Cortana Skills’ in the upcoming Windows 10 20H1 Update. Microsoft assures the changes to the way Cortana is deployed and integrated should help boost productivity and enhance security as well as privacy.
It appears Microsoft Cortana is either evolving or morphing into a productivity assistant. While this may sound reassuring, it essentially means that Microsoft has effectively killed the Cortana Skills platform and replaced it with a new Cortana Experience. Moving ahead, from Windows 10 20H1, Cortana skills will be fundamentally eliminated in the upcoming updated Cortana experience.
Microsoft To Scale Back Cortana Consumer-Facing ‘Skills’ And Reorient The Virtual Assistant For Business Users:
It appears Cortana might be leaving the Windows 10 OS ecosystem. The entire Cortana platform isn’t being scrapped, but there will be significant changes to the capabilities. Essentially, it is the Cortana Skills platform that will be scaled down significantly, and the Digital Assistant will be reshaped for business users.
— Robert Hof (@robhof) February 28, 2020
With the next upcoming major version revision of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft’s Cortana Virtual Digital Assistant will shed a large number of consumer-facing skills. The most notable exclusions from Cortana would be around music and connected homes, as well as some third-party skills. Skills like Xbox, FitBit, Phillips Hue, Spotify, and SmartThings/Samsung will no longer be available.
However, Cortana will be getting a deeper integration into Microsoft 365, the subscription-based remote cloud productivity and business collaboration suite from Microsoft. Cortana will be able to do things like finding information across Microsoft 365, helping manage schedule by giving users insights about their meetings, and executing other productivity-oriented tasks.
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— Global Data Labs (@SDG_global_data) February 27, 2020
Cortana To Be Dropped From Microsoft Launcher For Android As Well As Older Version Of Windows 10 OS:
In addition to shuttering “some” of Cortana Skills, Microsoft is also scaling back availability of the Virtual Assistant on older versions of Windows 10 OS. Simply put, older versions of Windows 10 that have reached their End-Of-Service date, which usually comes about 36 months after the original release, will stop working with Cortana.
Microsoft is also turning off Cortana support in its Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April. It is amply clear that the new Cortana experience is all about Microsoft 365, the subscription service that includes access to the MS Office tools, email, and cloud storage.
Alexa vs. Google vs. Bixby vs. Cortana – the #Voice Modality explanation you've been looking for – thanks to @Voicify's #CTO, Nick Laidlaw. Check it out! @acenick8 – https://t.co/o4h4IeYVIC #GoogleAssistant #AmazonAlexa #SamsungBixby #MicrosoftCortana
— Voicify | Conversation Experience Platform (@Voicify) February 26, 2020
The move appears to indicate that Microsoft may have backed out from the arena of consumer-facing virtual assistants. Google’s Virtual Assistant is already available and deeply integrated within the popular Android OS ecosystem. Then there’s the virtual audio-command driven Skills market. This market is currently dominated by Amazon with Amazon Skills. Hence, it makes sense for Microsoft to reorient Cortana to the business users, where the competition is still a little scarce. Speaking about the change, Microsoft said, “We’re excited about how these updates to Cortana will help you stay on top of things, save time and do your best work.”
Microsoft even reached out to news publications and offered more details about the transition. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that users will still be able to control smart home devices and speakers with the Cortana apps for iOS and Android. However, this capability too will be scrapped in the new Cortana app on Windows 10 within the 20H1 update.
We had previously reported how Microsoft was reinventing Cortana. The company is clearly following through its vision for the Digital Assistant. With Microsoft HoloLens slowly but surely gaining traction, the need for a reliable virtual assistant in the business world is increasing.