Cortana reportedly moving under the Microsoft Office team's purview

Microsoft has been busy reorganizing its internal teams over the past several months, starting with a major shakeup of its leadership teams and continuing with further – albeit smaller – shifts. According to new reports from both Petri and ZDNet, Microsoft's latest target as part of these internal moves is Cortana, which is said to be now under the purview of the Experiences & Devices and Office teams.

The move would shift Cortana out of its current home as part of the AI + Research team, under the guidance of Executive Vice President Harry Shum.

From Brad Sams, reporting for Petri:

At this time, the charter for Cortana isn't clear internally and the dust hasn't even started to settle on this announcement but understand that going forward, Microsoft is significantly changing the way it thinks about and utilizes Cortana.

This largely aligns with what my colleague, Windows Central Senior Editor Zac Bowden, reported earlier this year, noting that Microsoft's view of Cortana has gradually shifted as the digital assistant has fallen behind the likes of Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant in recent years. Rather than seeing Cortana as a standalone assistant, Microsoft is repurposing much of the work it has done with Cortana by leveraging the assistant's AI backbone across its services.

From Bowden:

Microsoft's end goal here is to integrate Cortana into Windows 10 seamlessly so that users don't even know they're using the assistant. This is where the "productivity" aspect of this repositioning comes in. Cortana can keep you being productive by sharing activities across devices with Timeline and "Pick up where you left off," sync and manage notifications across devices, and present things contextually.

Essentially, Cortana is being repositioned to be more of a seamless helper across Microsoft's services, doing so in a way that you potentially won't even realize you're interacting with Cortana at all. What remains certain is that Cortana isn't going anywhere, but the smarts that power the assistant will be more integrated across Windows 10 and Microsoft's apps. Though it's an evolution that comes as a result of Microsoft's loss of ground to Amazon and Google in one sense, it also presents a potential opportunity to lean on everything the company has learned to make its apps and services even smarter across devices.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • To be honest this is probably best for Cortana. Put it under a team that is committed to delivering a product not a research team with vague notions. Yes it will become even more enterprise driven but that okay i guess.
  • Perhaps, but I can't help but think "Yet again, another disappointment of many trying to be a MS fan, and having hope a good MS product will have success instead of becoming another afterthought"...
    Also makes me think "Can MS do anything right when it comes to modern lifestyle technology?"
    Also kinda makes me fear for the Surface brand..... Surface is the last thing fans have, and everything else has been taken away, so what's next?
  • Going forward, Cortana is now to be referred to as Clippit.
  • Yeah, the last Office assistant didn't get well received. 😜
  • Of course this title is misleading. It's not getting transferred to the "Office team." Cortana is getting transferred to the "Experiences and Devices AND Office team." That makes total sense - it's not a "Office" transfer, which sounds like it's going the way of Clippy. "Experiences and Devices" makes total sense, given the iOT focus. Better headlines make for better understanding.
  • I think this is true. Also, I think there's a lot of opportunity for AI and machine learning within the OS. I want Windows to understand that I want to open this particular file given the context, so it shouldn't open File Explorer to This PC but the folder I want. That has nothing to do with voice interaction but it would help me (and millions of others) tremendously.
  • Maybe now she'll finally sync her tasks with Outlook. Fingers crossed.
  • Pray
  • I like cortana a lot and use it daily, and I don't even live in the US. I just hope this shift doesn't mean "add it to the pile of great ideas we didn't do anything with and others caught up with" and then forget about it :p
  • I know what you mean. I have just moved to Google for my assistant as someone got me a home and I was that impressed I got 2 more and with having android made it my default after using cortana for years. I think going forward Microsoft need to work with both Amazon and Google in bringing there services to pc but linking them with cortana some how.
  • Sad
  • The article title is misleading - it's not what MS said. Cortana ain't going nowhere. What's most depressing is all the comments from other people (not you) who are reading the title and thinking it's being transferred to Office. NOT WHAT THEY SAID. Devices/Experiences is exactly the right place - it's how Google and Amazon treat their products too. It's an iOT world, and MS is moving it into that space. Stupid headline, that's all.
  • And you think it's not there already because...?
  • Another one bites the dust.
  • You clearly have not understood at all the tremendous opportunity here. This is not about a mobile phone assistant or pod-device but but all about integrated AI technology that becomes an intrinsic part of the OS/Office suite.
  • In like 5 languages in 12 countries. What the rest of the world is supposed to do? Also, most people in Europe speak at least 2 languages. Bilingual support is non existent in Cortana.
  • Xanc6.... Sounds like some more BS failure talk from MS that's gonna turn into nothing, while the others bring products to the world that are interesting, fun, and helpful.... If it's not about smartphones, IOT, or mobile, in 2019, it's not about anything. Get real
  • MSFT has been waiting for a perfect time for so long. Someone tell them it's not even the deadline, it's 2019.
  • MSFT has been waiting for a perfect time for so long. Someone tell them it's not even the deadline, it's 2019.
  • Exactly. If cortana is a thing and ppl think of it as a thing and ms is making moves to make cortana no thing,, cortana will become nothing. Simple. Every time ms does a reposition of a product its dies. That's CLEAR
  • Exactly. It's a half-baked headline that doesn't actually reflect what MS did. MS never said it was transferring it to the "Office team."
  • Not half baked. It just weeds through the bs and gets to the fact of the matter. It's the same reason cortana can no longer change the color of my lights. They are dwindling her down.
  • Cortana will turn into Mr. Clippy from 1995??!!
  • Most likely already has, as MS yet again disappoints.
  • *Clipanna
  • Goodbye Cortana
  • I think the potential here is great. While you are doing something such as doing research on a particular subject Cortana could help with that by quickly getting more related info together while you write without you having to tell her to do it other than saying or clicking yes. The transformation might be buggy at first but as time goes along it should be much more integrated. If you are a student in college instead of you having to tell your assistant to look up something it is already made available to you if you want it. I have already experienced this with Cortana asking me before I even thought much about further research or action on the part of what I was doing. Too often we tend to think of these kinds of things as being annoying but the truth is we are threatened by the fact that something that is helping is intruding instead. Face it, this is the future.
  • Word basically already has that. Cortana will add next to nothing to that experience. This is just the death of cortana hidden.
  • This is why I won't buy anymore Cortana based devices - granted there's barely any right now anyway. They're (unintentionally) stuck in Microsoft's walled garden with almost no support for the increasing number of smart devices out there. Which is a shame because I've been trying to stay away from Google/Amazon smart devices but it seems I have little choice.
  • Not a surprise they have given up on consumers apart from gamers... So Cortana for enterprise...
  • All this after Harmon Kardon fire sale... glad I got one regardless
  • I can't even Bluetooth music from my phone anymore
  • Why not take it down, that way you are sure the users are not using it 😂
  • Hmmm they put the article like its a good thing and it's not. "your not going to know your using Cortana" nope don't like it it's evil af. We didn't ask for that and sad how some are ok with this. Smh hope you can cut it off or out or might as well get siri this is not a good thing go away Cortana
  • Cortana is a front end service. You interact with it through voice or GUI. Why In the world are they focusing on having it do back end activates like document sync? Such good potential she had. MS really needs to learn how not to screw up good products. I blame the management.
  • Agreed.
  • Glad I'm not the only one who sees this
  • I hope this means that more is done with her. For example, if I were to switch to Android (*shivers*) Cortana is not available in Spanish. Which is BS, because it is for Windows.
  • IDIOTS!!!! Satya Nadella and his entire leadership team, all IDIOTS. I WANT to actively interact with Cortana. I do NOT want to use Alexa or Google or Siri or whatever. That's fine if they are able to integrate more of Cortana behind the scenes, but I WANT the front-end as well. I've submitted feedback to them time and again what they need to do, but those fools just won't listen.
  • Cortana not being able to change channels any more on Xbox, Then windows phone gets axed. Then Kinect gets discontinued, Now you can use Alexa on Windows, Now she is moving into the background. This is what happens when you have no mobile device support. You start seeing people having no use for Cortona so you stop investing in it and kick her to the curb. Yeah she will still be helpful in other ways but out in front. I don't think so. I love using cortana with my Kinect, but why doesn't she behave the same way on Xbox as she does on windows laptop/mobile? I have a Philips hue lights all through my house and its great that we can use her to control all our lights. If Halo lens does become a daily driver it would be awesome to interact with cortana on the fly while you are out shopping or asking for directions. Mobile support needs to come back so they can realize her true potential. Panos and the Surface team should be in charge of Her maybe they could think of slick ways to keep her out in front of the pack.
  • Hey Cortana, good bye.
  • Yet another MS disappointment. I'm telling y'all, I feel a lot better in Apple's lush walled garden than I ever did in MS' barren walled garden. MS just doesn't seem to have a clue what they are or want to be.
  • Actually, they do. Who they are just has nothing to do with consumers. Agree on Apple. I moved there almost 2 years ago. Having said that, I did recently pick up an Invoke speaker at the fire sale price. Its a great-sounding speaker, but limited to mono. I also have the microphones turned off and its not connected to wifi. I am using it only as a bluetooth speaker. I don't care about Cortana at all. If I could connect 2 together for stereo it would be outstanding. Alas, that is not possible.
  • There’s nothing worse than being wishy-washy. It sends all kinds of mixed signals to developers and fans. They need to keep Cortana out front IN ADDITION to improving her “back office” skills. To being using Cortana without even being aware you are using her is lunacy! Basically they’re saying no worries folks we haven’t killed Cortana. You just won’t ever hear her or see her. But she’s here “in spirit”. Hogwash!
  • Exactly
  • It's getting reshuffled to another corporate division, so they can quietly squelch it out of public view. It's yet another front-end consumer service, that Microsoft fell behind/let wither on the vine.
    'Cortana'- like properties while I'm creating an Excel document isn't very exciting or what breathless blog posts are written up about, IMO. It's probably only a matter of time before the entire Xbox division is sold off to Samsung, LG or Huawei.
  • Off to Fort Zinderneuf with you, private ...
  • Rip Cortana
  • Reshuffling teams? Sounds like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. The only change with any hope of success is in the CEO's chair.
  • Yeah, this is really gonna be the savior for the useless 'Help' that MS has left us with now that manuals are sooooo 'yesterday'. Especially true for places that would NEVER allow such a connection for corporate security reasons (i.e., the gummint, for one very important example).
  • Sort of given up on Cortana already. 'Hey Cortana' doesn't listen and won't allow me to reconfigure - always 'seems to be a problem, come back later'! Cortana on Android - half-baked and not really capable of much of use. I shall 'watch this space' but not holding my breath!