Microsoft has officially announced that starting in August 2023, it will discontinue support for the Cortana app as a standalone feature in Windows, as Windows Latest spotted an update that pulls the plug on the assistant. This action is a culmination of various statements and updates from Microsoft on the matter.
Cortana’s Persistence in Other Products
Despite the end of Cortana as a standalone application on Windows, Microsoft ensures that users can still access powerful AI capabilities for productivity. Cortana will remain available in Outlook mobile Teams mobile Microsoft Teams display Microsoft Teams rooms
Transition and Alternatives
To smoothen the transition, Microsoft has offered alternative resources, including: – “Voice access” in Windows 11, enabling users to control PCs and write text using voice commands. – AI-powered Bing provides concise answers to complex questions. – Microsoft 365 Copilot and Windows Copilot, new AI features for content creation, collaboration, and much more.
Generative AI Taking the Spotlight
Generative AI is shifting the focus from traditional voice assistants like Cortana. Several years ago, voice assistants were seen as the next big innovation, but the industry trend has moved towards much more advanced AI technologies.
The Integration of Copilot
Microsoft’s integration of “Copilot,” the same generative AI used in Bing, into Windows 11, showcases the company’s transition from Cortana to more sophisticated AI solutions. Windows Copilot, a new AI assistant, is seen as a more useful tool, replacing Cortana’s functionalities, with preview versions already available for testing.
Impact on Other Voice Assistants
Cortana isn’t the only voice assistant experiencing transformation. Google Assistant is undergoing an AI makeover, while Samsung’s Bixby has moved to a focus on on-device controls. Apple’s approach to generative AI remains unclear with little information available.
The End of a Voice Assistant Era
Launched on Windows Phone 8.1 back in 2014 and brought to Windows 10 PCs a year later, Cortana’s journey has been marked with challenges. Lack of interest from third-party manufacturers and the rise of competitors like Alexa or Google Assistant contributed to Cortana’s decline.
Cortana’s Legacy and Future Prospects
Microsoft’s shift to productivity use cases for Cortana and the introduction of AI-driven alternatives, such as Bing chatbot, marks a significant transition in how users interact with their devices. The latest initiative with OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology and Copilot products reaffirms Microsoft’s commitment to AI-driven innovation.
Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, stated earlier this year that AI was “going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows.” With the upcoming support for third-party plugins and continued collaboration with OpenAI, Microsoft aims to create a seamless and more efficient user experience, avoiding another situation akin to Cortana where developers mainly focus on building skills for competitors.
The discontinuation of Cortana marks a shift in Microsoft’s approach to AI and user interaction. Emphasizing privacy standards, collaboration, and efficiency, the new AI-powered tools reflect the current technological trend. These changes may impact how users work in Windows, but the company’s efforts in introducing new tools and functionalities are designed to ensure a smooth transition into a new era of AI-driven productivity.