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Microsoft has totally dropped the ball on Cortana

When, exactly, was the last time Microsoft rolled out Cortana to a new market? When was the last Microsoft released new features to Cortana outside of the United States? And why is the Cortana experience on Windows 10 so... bad? When Cortana first came to market in 2014, it was awesome. In many respects it was better than what the competition offered. It was a promising start for Microsoft's virtual assistant, but over the last couple of years, Cortana seems to have stagnated.

It's funny to think that just a few years ago, Cortana was one of the best virtual assistants on the market that was also appropriately positioned to improve and grow. Microsoft was the first to have an always listening peripheral on the market with the Xbox One and Kinect. It was the first to bring a virtual assistant to a desktop OS with Windows 10. It was the first to build out a virtual assistant that can sync data across devices. Somehow, Cortana has fallen so far behind.

Cortana is virtually absent from the home automation market. The Harman Kardon Invoke is the only smart speaker on the market with Cortana right now. Microsoft should have turned the Xbox One with Kinect into an always listening AI peripheral, with support for home automation skills, music streaming, and more. Unfortunately, Cortana on Xbox One is a useless mess, which many simply opt not to use.

On PC, Cortana has more or less stagnated. Sure, Cortana has received a handful of new features over the last few years, but very few of them have made it to markets outside the United States. Cortana Skills, Spotify Integration, Invoke support, Package Tracking, and more are US-only. Cortana is available in a pathetically small number of markets, and most of those are stuck with limited features and functions. For many, Cortana is next to useless unless you first switch it to US.

Where are the markets?

And here lies the biggest issue with Cortana right now. Microsoft's inability to bring Cortana to more markets, as well as bring the same feature-set available in the US to more markets as well, is what is holding Cortana back right now. There is no excuse for this, either. When Cortana first launched, Microsoft's said that Cortana was in beta and thus only available in limited markets. That was understandable three years ago, but what's the holdup today?

There is no good reason why Cortana isn't in more markets now. There's also no reason why many of Cortana's features are US-only in 2018. Microsoft has enough Insiders in the markets where Cortana is available to test these features for local support. It's a joke how my Harman Kardon Invoke that I use in the UK is useless unless I switch Cortana to the US. The last time Cortana was rolled out in a new market was 2015, which is frankly unacceptable.

Cortana has the potential. It should be the best assistant on the market today; it has the potential reach to be. But because Microsoft doesn't seem to care about bringing Cortana to more markets, and doesn't care enough about bringing already existing Cortana features to markets that Cortana already supports, it's being left behind in marketshare and mindshare by Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.

The other problem with Cortana on Windows 10 is its experience. Its integration with Windows Search isn't great, and I think Microsoft knows this. We already know Microsoft is looking into moving the Cortana experience out of Search and into the Action Center and System Tray, which will hopefully boost Cortana's use. However, what Cortana needs is integration with other parts of the OS.

Cortana being available on iOS and Android is super helpful, and is arguably a step in the right direction. But the most important thing for Cortana right now is making it available in more markets, with more features working locally outside the United States.

For Cortana to truly outpace other virtual assistants, it needs to work for you. Right now, Cortana, Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and whatever else is on the market is only ever really used when the user prompts it. A real assistant would do things for you without you even needing to think about it. Cortana has already started doing this with things like "pick up where you left off" and timeline, and I would hope to see that integration continue. If Microsoft can make it, so Cortana becomes contextual, working for you without you thinking about it or needing to click on a Cortana button first, then I think Microsoft could take back the virtual assistant market.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Cortana. I want Cortana to succeed, and I want it to be the best on the market. But Microsoft's inability to support more markets as well as bring already existing features to markets outside the US needs to be top priority. There's no point building a virtual assistant if it's not available to anyone, right?

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

243 Comments
  • Well done, Zac. I hope headlines like this one reach someone from Microsoft. It's come to this.
    I'm gonna link this to that new Cortana guy. Being of Hispanic origin, I would have thought that he would understand the region/language border wall. But it seems I'm wrong.
  • It reaches but poor leadership wont know what to do with it.
    Microsoft is on autopilot at the moment. Has been for sometime.
  • Almost all of Microsoft's consumer facing products are broken in some way. On the other hand, go see what Azure is doing and how they are improving the AI on the back-end. You say Cortana? What about the Mail and Calendar app? When was the last time those two got an update to actually make them usable? Two days ago we managed to see what the new version of Windows has to offer developers. They showcased how they are using Windows ML (Machine Learning I assumed) to enable the Photos app team - which looked like a very small team - to basically use the back-end AI instead of develping their own algorithms for face detection, etc.
    That was not the point for me. The point was, you got to see this little team working like a sad little island, separate from all other teams. I honestly got the feeling of how the company doesn't have any QC to make sure the Windows UX, as a whole complete package, tells a unified story. This issue has plagued Windows since Windows 8. Ballmer dropped the ball on 8 and when Nadella came along, he didn't care enough about the front-end to clean up the mess and the same issue hurt Windows 10 Mobile as well. Satya Nadella is clearly showing he has no inerest in anything that has to do with consumers. To him, Microsoft is all back-end development. Shareholders and the board should be smart to notice how he is failing in the consumer market, and realize he needs to head the Services part of Microsoft and not the entire company. Microsoft needs someone who realizes how good Nadella is at everything back-end, but also puts someone in charge of Windows and the consumer space who can actually use the enormous potential in that market.
  • Well said. Nadella is great at services, and useless for everything else.
  • There's no proof that Nadella is great at services.  There is strong growth across the board on enterprise cloud, Microsoft was in position to benefit before he took over.  We know what he is bad at though...
  • You can't just criticize the guy where there is failure and avoid praising him where there is growth. "Microsoft was in position" means they have determined the trend, designed, created, and marketed the proper services for the customer. These things on this scale don't happen by chance.
  • What specific action has Nadella taken, since he became CEO at Microsoft, caused the 100% growth in cloud revenues?  He must have take the same actions for Amazon and Google too, because their cloud services are growing at similar rates.  He's lucky, I'll give him that.  He walked right before the enterprise cloud explosion, and that is covering up a ton of disasters... like Cortana.
  • You mean besides killing off mobile and moving efforts from Mobile first to Cloud first?
  • He was in charge of Azure before he becamse CEO. THe whole Microsoft Cloud thing is his thing.
    I was not aware that you can just sit there and BAM you have one of the best cloud services in the industry.
    There is no point in arguing this.
  • That's the point, he's CEO of Microsoft not just the azure guy anymore. They would have been.better off leaving him in charge of cloud services and pulling someone else as CEO. 
  • And, cloud services, which are supposed to be Nadella's specialty are a mess (per the Article).  If I ask Cortana "what on my calendar today" I should get the same answer whether I use my PC, Phone, Invoke, or even XBox, but it doesn't work.  On the Invoke, it doesn't recognize the events from my sports teams, so it will it report nothing on my calendar.  However, if I ask Cortana on my PC or Phone, she says the Bulls are playing tonight.  And that's in the country that it is actually supposed to be working in... like Zac reported, a mess.  So yea, I wince when I hear "Nadella is great at services". 
  • They had to make him CEO because the world would not be able to understand why they had taken yet another caucasian man and made them CEO of one of the world's biggest companies.  Some of these CEO's are where they are because of politics and posturing/virtue signalling.  The trend these days is to take any seemingly qualified "Person of Color" and promote them, cause diversity.  This also happens with sexual preference and gender - not just race... Satya doesn't really do much for Microsoft consumer services/software precicely becuase he spent his career working on enterprise services, and simply doesn't have a clue how the consumer market works.  Since enterprise brings in so much cash, he's content to focus predominantly on that market.  As long as it's bringing in cash, investors really won't question it...  Even though it's eroding at the viability of other sections of the business, and lowering consumer trust and confidence. That's why we have CEOs of three of the world's largest companies which are completely devoid of personality and out of touch with large swaths of thier user bases.  Being able to count beans doesns't make you a de facto CEO candidate.  Sinofsky was likely ousted to make room for this, after the Windows 8 debacle. Steve Balmer was probably crazy, and certainly made some mistakes... But he was a lot more in touch than this guy seems to be.  Microsoft now operates consumer services much like Google.  You don't want to use them, becuase everything feels like a Beta which might disappear next week.  I don't trust their products anymore.  Too much change and flux.  Too much volatility. The day will come when Apple's PC prices come down a bit and they have dGPUs in a lot more of thier SKUs (lower on the totem pole), and Microsoft is really going to feel the heat. PC gaming is really the only reason Windows continues to be relevant in the current consumer market.
  • Absolutely not: the "Cloud"  at MS started, under Ballmer, with Ray Ozzie.
  • I'm sorry, but shareholders only care about Azure and back-end. No shareholders care about consumers. The same for Apple. If you don't have cloud KPIs and AI KPIs, you are doomed for investment. So this has nothing to do with shareholders. Or rather on the contrary, leaving consumers behind is for the shareholders. They are the ones that does not like to see investment going into consumers. Apple right now has the advantage to have good numbers and profit coming from consumer space, but it's rather a thing that shareholders now don't care about.
  • Bullshit.  Savy investors understand that retrenching from the consumer market will result in a smaller company, with less influence and less opportunity for expansion and less revenue in the long run.  Don't blame the investors for Nadella's bone headed decisions.
  • Agent, Mail and Calendar are super usable. I love it. Both for personal and Professional use. It gets new features  frequently. Last few builds added filter for gmail too, so now all your mail is properly filtered.  (Focused/Other) You want something more robust? Use Outlook.  You sound like a classic forum agitator. Are you a guerilla marketing Agent? 
  • And you sound like someone who really enjoyed Windows 8 on the desktop, and thought "people are afraid of change". Take a look at my profile in the forums. See when I was here, see my posts and suggestions. In a month or two, see my app. You'll know who I am.
  • @fdruid Based on MS' track record outside the U.S. there was no reason to expect Cortana to  become useful outside a very small number of markets. Many people have been pointing to this utter failure for years, particularly those of us who never believed that the "beta" label actually had anything to do with limited availability. The beta label was always (at best) a sorry excuse that helps MS avoid having to explain the more complicated and less acceptable reality. The problems with Cortana have nothing to do with MS not-knowing and everything to do with not-wanting. Until that changes, articles like this won't have any affect.
  • Youre absolutely right, there are way too many ms services that are US only or only useful in the US. It's especially confusing because MS continues to protest itself as a global company. 
  • Windows PHONE Central, and fans, have been trying to give MS good advice on how to run their own business for years..... What makes you think they are smart enough to listen now?
  • Also.... I said this same thing about WP a million times.
    "It doesn't matter how many features your product has, how many markets your product is in, or how great your product is... None of that will do any good if nobody knows about it."..... That's the bottom line. #marketing
  • This has been the wrong analysis for many years. WP was ALWAYS behind in terms of features. Enough marketing was done for that product. Trying to market a half-arsed product won't work. With Microsoft, the product fails the moment you get a sense they don't care about it anymore, and that's when they stop competing, not just when they stop marketing.
  • Windows mobile was mostly behind in terms of apps, not features. To this day, there are several heat features of Windows phone that STILL don't exist on iOS and Android. The analysis that Microsoft creates great features and then fails to market them is 100% correct, and had been for years.
  • So you are suggesting Windows Phone was never behind in terms of features? Seriously?
    Should I remind you what started with even lacking USSD functionality, cpy and paste, setting ringtones, etc. on WP7 when the friggin' iPhone FOUR was out? Or when we didn't get TWO SEPARATE VOLUME CONTROLS? Or when the OS was behind in terms of screen resolution support? Or multi-core chipset support? Windows on phones only gained feature parity on W10M and that was when Microsoft had already dropped the towel. Those features came in a pretty...how should I put this delicately...DISGUSTING way. The original 950 was released in such a messy state, software-wise, that I couldn't believe that thing was an actual flagship from a company serious to compete in th emobile space. Feature parity is a relatively recent thing for Windows on phones and even when it was achieved it was delivered in such a horrible way that I couldn't recomment the package to anyone. Marketing was adequate. They needed to put resources and actually commit to the platform, instead of pushing absolutely empty "updates" for Xbox Music. That's where they failed. Do you have any doubt that if there was a continuation of WP8.1 today, Microsoft would have already acquired about 10% of the market with marketing done the way they did? They put Lumias in Superman the movie and famous music videos ffs. Marketing was never the issue for Microsoft. It was bigger than that, and that was commitment.
  • Agree, WP failed by firstly features missing, then lacking of apps.
  • The truth is spoken!
  • AgentTheGreat, you put forward interesting points. Question though, when you refer to MS marketing sufficiently do you refer to the U.S? Or to the world? I have never seen any MS marketing, exept on YouTube. From a marketing perspective MS are not like Apple or Samsung etc as they create 'desire' for their products.  Not that long ago MS launched hololens, Windows 10 mobile with continuum, Band, Surface Pro 4 and EVRYONE sat up and took notice. Hololens - heck, that was so sexy and innovative it was like when iphone came out in 2007. All these products (except Surface Pro) have died a slow death or in the case of hololens, has never become a consumer product. Shame really, so much potential. MS are doing the same with Cortana, the Invoke speaker and you could say the same with Xbox One X. They don't promote it at all. Zac Bowden's article is spot on. One thing I never understand about MS, is they never communicate their plans (maybe they don't have any). Maybe Azure makes them so much money it doesn't matter what happens in the consumer space      
  • Lumias were advertised enough that they were on the path to taking over Europe. The Superman movie I referred to opened everywhere, not just the U.S. Hololens: my whole point. Microsoft isn't committed to bringing that thing to the market. People suggest "they don't know how to market it" while my point is they DON'T WANT to market it, because they are internally not sure if they want to go in that direction. Same thing with Surface Table. The fact that Hololens hasn't become a consumer product is due to the fact that Microsoft never committed to bringing that to the consumer market. Sure, marketing is part of the equation but that comes after the commitment thing.
  • Lumias were never on that path. They had some very limited success with the cheap L520 and Nokia name, but that didn't continue growing. People just do not like Windows phone. It wasn't competitive.
  • I've alreay tagged you as some troll in my mind who thinks because he doesn't like WP that everyone else just hated it too, so this will be the last time I argue about how coming to the market 3.5 years too late IS A FACTOR. Grow up, will ya?
  • Have you seen the sales numbers including Europe? Hard to argue many people liked it compared to the competition with those terrible numbers.
  • @AgentTheGreat Glad to see your post here. At least occasionally we can find a nugget of truth amongst the piles of BS. Everything you've said has been well understood for a very long time already. It's a shame our "tech media" does such a poor job explaining this. @Killing of the World I don't live in the U.S. and I did see the occasional advertisement back in 2013/2014. MS could have advertised much more, that is true, but it wouldn't have made any difference however. MS had a half-decent mobile OS which did have some (little) advantages over the competition (and many drawbacks). For most people, the small benefits weren't worth the sacrifices (particularly apps). No amount of advertising was going to change this fundamental dynamic! If you're products/services are very comparable to the competition's, then having the biggest advertising budget (yelling your way to success) can work. However, MS was at least three years behind and needed to get a foothold in a market where most people were already more or less deeply entrenched in the iOS and Android ecosystems. Getting people to abandon the ecosystem they have already spent money on and are familiar with (iTunes, Google maps, Google Drive, Android or iOS apps) for something new and less familiar requires something revolutionary! MS would have required some unique feature which no competitor could match. The feature needed to be simple to grasp and understand (making it easy to market) and it needed to be something the masses would find interesting and useful. MS never had that. The closest MS got was thanks to Nokia with the 1020, but even that was still "just" a better camera. The average non-enthusiast will simply think "hey, I can make pictures too, the slightly better pictures aren't worth the fuss". That wasn't enough. That's why there was never something big worth marketing. Almost all the innovation was happening on Android/iOS and MS was in perpetual catch up mode. The only alternative is to massively undercut the competition with a lower price for comparable quality. The 520 is the first and last time that worked. That is why there was never anything worth marketing. It would have been wasted money.
  • It's true that feature parity only came with W10M, and the hardware they released it on was horribly underwhelming (some might just say horrible altogether), but I have never ever in my life seen a single Microsoft commercial on TV for ANYTHING.  Maybe they show TV commercials in the US, but not here in Canada. Ya, YouTube videos are "modern" and product placements in TV shows are clever, but far too subtle.  I recognize Windows mobile devices on Hawaii -Five-O but only because I'm a fan.  99% of people watching that show have no idea they're using Windows mobile handsets. The most effective marketing is still done through memorable TV commercials.  It's no wonder most people have no idea that Windows phone ever even existed.
  • Windows Mobile 10 was never a fine, working product, let's face it. No matter how many good apps, if things don't work. And why develop apps, when things just don't work, and no growth is foreseen?
  • WP. Marketing?
  • Sorry, I disagree... You, and nobody else in the world, will ever convince me that Marketing was the biggest issue with WP... Did it have other issues? Yes. Was it perfect? No, but marketing was strictly the root causes of all WP failures, as is the case with many other MS products.
  • Okay, define here for me the difference between "root cause" and "biggest issue"! :)
  • Windows Phone 7 was marketed very heavily, at least here in the states. The ads were on TV non-stop. Microsoft had a huge marketing budget and the phones were in all the stores. It didn't matter because the platform and strategy were mediocre at best. You only want to remember the last few years when Microsoft learned marketing doesn't work for them. It is a scapegoat for you to not have to face the fact that Windows phone sucked. Bottom line, marketing is hard when your product sucks. Marketing is futile when your product sucks.
  • I'll just let the reviews talk for themselves: "Windows Phone 7 is a great OS. Windows Mobile tried to squeeze a desktop-like OS in your pocket but that never quite worked. The seventh iteration of Microsoft’s mobile operating system takes a different approach – instead of loads of features through a complicated (and not very well thought out) user interface, it puts simplicity and usability first and then tries to add as much functionality as possible without making a mess out of the whole thing. And it has worked – Windows Phone 7 looks like nothing we’ve ever used before, yet we never felt lost or confused. The most obvious thing works 80% of the time and the few tips sprinkled here and there taught us nice but not so obvious tricks without getting in the way. Speaking of looks, Windows Phone 7 has unique aesthetics. Parts of it are absolutely gorgeous. It stays away from the faux 3D look for interface elements and instead keeps things flat but visually appealing. It’s the kind of look you’d find in a magazine or a well designed minimalist web site." https://www.gsmarena.com/windows_phone_7-review-521p8.php
  • What do reviews have to do with it? Microsoft wasn't selling the platforms to reviewers or really even end users. They needed to sell it to manufacturers and carriers first. How was I wrong?
  • THe reviewers talk about the quality of the product itself. The rest is strategy, which I always argue Microsoft failed there (getting to market, commitment, etc.) You keep arguing the product itself was bad. Reviews prove you wrong on exactly this point.
  • Windows mobile was ahead on features. Nobody knew about it. If you think MS markets their products, when was the last time you saw a commercial or any advertising for windows mixed reality headsets? 
  • It was never ahead in features. That is a crazy statement to make.
  • WP was always behind because Microsoft did not give it the attention it needed to compete with Android and IOS.  Microsoft let WP fall further and further behind they wanted to devote all their resources into their cloud business. It is too bad because if WP had reached its full potential, it would have probably been better than IOS and Android. 
  • Okay, the problem here is that there was not a chance to know about these in the first place, as features do not work, they are not available in numerous markets and the products are no good. So how were people to know about the opposite. When iPhones came along, nobody knew about them, and nobody frankly cared. Only they were for the vast majority of people a working, fine product. All it required were some years for words to spread. If words have to come from only first-party press, that stinks.
  • What was there to know? That WP existed? That would have been rather useless. What MS would have had to explain is why anybody should choose MS/WP over the options people were already familiar with and had invested in. WP didn't lend itself to that argument. "Hey, why not try out WP, where you can do almost everything you can already do with the device you already own..." That is not a convincing argument. Even something better (like the 40MP camera in the L1020) isn't enough! to entice people out of their familiar comfort zones you need something unique and new and highly desirable. Until MS had a unique and worthy sales pitch, which made it clear whom WP was for, and a product that followed through on that promise, there was no amount of advertising money that would have made a difference. Back in 2012 MS spent a billion on WP advertising. That was entirely inneffective. People who think advertising was the problem either lack information or are slightly insane.  
     
  • The issue is easy to see now if they would take off their blinders. iPhone is iPhone, Microsoft wasn't competing with them. Google came to the mobile market, went to the manufacturers and carriers, and gave them the source code to a free, unified platform. They let them do whatever they wanted with minimal stipulations. They could use whatever hardware they wanted and add any feature they could develop. Very enticing and have them the keys to their own castle. All for free. Microsoft comes in, years later and says, here is our platform. You can only use this old hardware, you cannot add features, the APIs are limited so the apps you can create for it are limited and the user can delete them, the UI cannot be changed and oh yeah, you have to pay us for it. Also, you have to use this toxic brand Windows. Good luck. It is obviously. Microsoft came to market with a terrible platform. Hindsight is 20/20 and you are blind if you cannot see what Microsoft did wrong.
  • "OEM custmizability" a PURE BS argument you keep repeating. "You can only use this old hardware" really? "Previous rumors about the minimum hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7 devices also listed minimum camera resolution, GPS, Wi-Fi and even a minimum set of hardware buttons. These vary quite a lot, so we’re not sure about the specifics, but it looks like Windows Phone 7 devices will be inhabiting the high-end segment only and Microsoft will have a firm grip on the used hardware via stringent licensing procedures." https://www.gsmarena.com/minimum_hardware_requirements_for_windows_phone_7_revealed-news-1470.php The first hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7 were eye-wateringly high end..."The minimum requirements for the CPU are 1GHz (that’s right - minimum) and hardware graphics acceleration is mandatory." And yes, EVERYONE made Windows Phones. Even Dell. Then they figured it's too late, so they got out. OEM support was NEVER even a small part of the problem. GSMArena kept referring to how Microsoft demands top-notch hardware. You keep getting corrected time and time again but never learn. No one is buying your "Microsoft didn't let OEMs customize" nonsense. You are literally the only one. Isn't that clue enough?
  • I think three main strategic blunders cancelling Courier not pursuing "Zune phone" and not architecting Surface RT to support Windows Phone apps pretty much sealed their fate in mobile.   It's waste of time trying to dissect the effectiveness of the tactical actions that came after, in my opinion.  
  • Every Windows phone looked identical and had identical features. How would Samsung gain repeat sales when their device would be identical to Nokia's? Why would Manufacturers be excited about that? Why would they put effort into that? Again, hindsight is 20/20. Only Nokia put effort into WP and Microsoft had to pay them heavily for it. Over $100 million per quarter! The supported Snapdragon processors were always a year behind. You don't remember that? It is a fact, not an opinion. The 950 was the first time a Wp was released with the current Snapdragon. 900, 920, 930 all were a year behind. Samsung couldn't use their processor at all. Microsofts did almost nothing to court manufacturers and carriers. How can you argue any different? I have never seen anyone make an argument against that. It was the manufacturers and carriers that catapulted Android, not Google. Remember HTC and Sprint with the EVO? Verizon and Motorola with the Droid? Samsung and the Galaxy S2? Google had very little to do with that. Why weren't those phones running Windows?
  • The same way iPhones keep selling and Samsung laptops keep selling.
  • @bleached I understand what you're saying and why, but you're missing a few important points. First, AgentTheGreat is correct. Ultimately, OEMs will build whatever carriers order or whatever there exists consumer demand for. Whether or not the chosen mobile OS allows for customization is irrelevant, because OEMs are amongst those with the least amount of power in the smartphone market, particularly in the U.S. As such, OEMs were never the entities MS had to court. The primary reason OEMs refused to jump on the WP bandwagon was profit potential. MS could have provided everything OEMs wanted, without profit potential it would have changed nothing. On the other hand, MS could have continually screwed OEMs over, given enough profit potential OEMs would have been all over WP regardless. OEMs don't have the power to create ecosystems. That is the domaon of software, and a functioning and profitable ecosystem is what makes or breaks a smartphone market. For this reason, we can remove the topics of OEMs and OS configurability as they simply don't matter in the way you assume they do. OEMs follow. They aren't leaders. Second, you stated elsewhere that MS/WP was NOT competing with Apple/iOS. Nobody at MS would support that claim however. Apple is exactly who MS intended to compete with. This is one of the main reasons why MS insisted on stanardized hardware and an OS that is distributed in binary form that OEMs can't muck around with! This provided MS with the technical capability to update every WP device directly, just like Apple (and in contrast to the fragmented Android ecosystem where every device shipped with its own proprietary version of Android which Google can't update directly). You think this was a weakness, but at least technically this is a huge advantage that is certainly worth any slight OEM related disadvantages it might cause, particularly for a company like MS who is strongly focused on IT security and needed that capability to follow through on their security related goals/promises. Carriers are the final topic where you're incorrectly informed. U.S. carriers already felt/feel shafted by Apple who forced legal terms on them which they still find tyrannical. MS originally just wanted the same rights as Apple, i.e. the ability to update their own devices on carrier's networks with anything, at anytime, without going through the lengthy and complicated carrier testing/validation process. U.S. carrier's weren't having it. Particularly not with MS whom they viewed (back in 2011)  as an even more powerfull entity than Apple, and worse, also as a potential competitor (due to Skype). WP was engineered to provide an update experience just like Apple, but in practice carrier's policies prevented MS from realizing WP's potential in that regard. MS ended up bending over backward for carriers, accepting a far more expensive and drawn out update process, where carriers dealt only with OEMs so as to isolate carrier's customers from direct access by MS. At the same time, OEMs provided their WP devices as carrier exclusives... you can't court carriers any more than that. Few others will willing to go to those lengths to court carriers at that time (which customers hated but carriers loved). The result of this clusterf***: WP had all of the disadvantages of a binary distributed OS like iOS, all of the disadvantages of a fragmented OS like Android, and the benefits of neither. The point being: It's simply not true that MS did nothing to court carriers. MS bent over backward and sacrificed everything they had hoped would allow them to compete with Apple. They could have sacrificed even more, true, but that would have achieved nothing, because carriers viewed MS as a potential threat and nothing like a weak OEM which they were accustomed to keeping under control. There were not many ways MS could overcome these difficulties: 1) Relinquish control over the WP source code by declaring WP public domain. Basically, copy Android and take themselves out of the picture. WP just wasn't designed for this approach. More importantly, it probably wasn't viable given their goals of OS unification and certainly not wanting to make all of Windows open source. 2) Raise market demand to a point where carriers without WP devices are put at a severe competitive disadvantage, thereby forcing carriers to give MS the same deal as they gave Apple (probably what they once hoped for). 3) Become so powerless that carriers no longer perceive MS as a threat. This is obviously what happened, and since then they've had a much easier time with U.S. carriers. Unforntunately, nobody cares anymore.
  • Microsoft does the same thing over and over and over again: they introduce something innovative and brilliant, then trip over their own feet, single around like a drunk person with a lobotomy, and finally stagger off to the next party, leaving the first one to be taken over by other guests. They are completely incompetent at dealing with the consumer product space, and as a result they have earned the repair of being a company you can't trust to follow through on any of their promises.
  • "Trip over their own feet"... Lol. That gave me the most hilarious visual.
  • What have they released in the past decade that is "innovative and brilliant"?
  • "Microsoft fan" my behind lol.
  • Name it. Only thing I could think of is maybe Hololens and that hasn't gone anywhere, proven anything. You are right. Maybe I am not a fan anymore. Just someone who HAS to use Windows these days. I no longer WANT to use Windows. I am sure I am not alone.
  • Windows Phone, as a completely different view compared to iOS and Android, towards what a phone should be. Zune HD the device which was designed with the early version of Metro and everyone praised its UI and its intuitiveness. Surface line, al of them, including but not limited to Surface Studio + Surface Dial + the Zero Gravitiy hinge. You said HoloLens yourself. And I spent exactly 7 seconds on this list.
  • You really think a multi-billion dollar corporation, with some of the best talent in the world, is just being sloppy? It's their strategy to exit the consumer market.
    Microsoft lost the mobile train. There's no going back from that. Consequently, they lost the ecosystem and everything associated with it. Lauching consumer products like home assistants only means more money hemorrhaging, like with phones.
    They're going to focus where the money is, just like IBM did. The next step is killing Android and iOS apps, which will be unsupported legacy in a couple of years.
  • Yes, they ARE just being sloppy and lazy with the front end.
  • It's not that simple anymore...you can't leave "consumer market" and focus only on "enterprise market" ...consumer products will penetrate "entrprise market" more and more...and you have to keep retreating until you're nothing but an infrastructure company and get taken over... If they decide not to compete in consumer market i think that would be a big strategic mistake...it may make sense in the short term and the "activist investors" may be pushing for it...but I wish they would reinvent themselves and fight in the consumer market.. Google is coming after XBox - the only purely consumer product that microsoft has...
  • Told you guys this awhile back.. Glad to see youre caught up. Cortona is consumer facing, so little interest to further its development.
  • Zac, I think you've just defined the entire Nadella tenure.  Lack of commitment.  Microsoft drops the ball on just about everything these days with the exception of Azure and Office 365 for Enterprise.  To name a few... Band... Groove... Win 10 Mobile... Hololens... and now Cortana...  It begs the question "what's next?"... the Microsoft Store?  UWP?  The Windows OS? While killing off their half-hearted efforts may work with Wall Street in the short term, this is a long term recipe for disaster for Microsoft .  When you (and by "you" I mean Microsoft) come out with a product/platform and you go give a big fancy speach at say Microsoft Build or Microsoft Ignite about how exciting this or that new platform is... whether it is A.I. (cortana), Mobile, Augmented Reality (hololens), Cloud, etc. etc. blah di blah blah... and then you fail to follow through, you really seriously tick a bunch of developers off who were gullible enough to believe your 1/2 truths, and invested a bunch of time, money, blood, sweat, and tears in your platform.  And then you wonder why developers are fleeing your ecosystem for Android and iOS en masse? Nadella is a nice enough guy.  Talks a mean game.  Sounds like he's the smartest man on earth when he speaks.  But he has serious leadership problems.  He's a quitter.    
  • Also, Cortana on Android isn't available for all countries either. And as far as I know, neither is the Microsoft Launcher.
  • The truth is, MSFT's focus is cloud 1st and productivity next (OFFICE). Anything outside of those two will most probably suffer. The only thing keeping Xbox alive is that it's generating revenue with little input from MSFT. My 2 cents
  • That misses the point of Cortana, however, which is AI. Cortana is merely the front for Microsofts' quantum and AI efforts, which is a huge area of investment for them, so that argument does not hold water, IMO.
  • Then why has there been so little innovation with Cortana in 3+ years?
  • I think because of internal politics at Microsoft. Fragmentation is causing lack of focus, lack of unified front, if you want. Little teams in charge of individual products are running inside their little circles, there is no proper authority to synchronize them. Microsoft really needs someone like Steve Jobs if they want their consumer products to ever be really successful. I was hoping that Panos Panay might be that guy, but sadly it hasn't happened yet. I still think he has potential, only maybe he is not getting the opportunity because other departmental bosses fear him becoming too influential? Who knows. As of ecosystem theories. What ecosystem Android has? Their tablets are not overly popular, and on laptop/desktop market they are still within statistical error margins. Even Apple. It is to be expected that majority of Mac users also use iPhone, and maybe iPad on top... but many iPhone users have Windows computers, or Surface-like device to replace laptop and tablet. Ecosystem is good thing, but one can be successful without whole ecosystem.
  • Whether or not you think it holds water, it is a fact. "The point" of Cortana isn't AI--it's being a voice assistant.  Sure, that's not totally unrelated to AI, but neither is it central.  Furthermore, voice assistants are mostly consumer-facing, and MS doesn't do consumer products anymore. MS is cloud-only.  That's why even Windows itself is essentially dead at this point. And they'd better watch out, because they're not top-dog in the cloud, and they're not the most agile there, either.  (I think they're in deep doo doo, honestly.)
  • It's funny how we all came to the same conclusion. I commented basically the same thing above, without reading the rest of the comments. It's so obvious.
  • I agree as well ... I think in the medium term there will not be clear boundary between consumer market