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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 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 and enterprise market...so if they choose to retreat from "consumer market"...their eco sytem will increasingly lose relevance and they would  keep retreating endlessly Not competing in the consumer market may make sense in the short term and shareholders would love it... but it'd be a shame if they retreated when they have so much resources in terms of money, talent and research. I really wish the leadership at all levels would show imagination, courage and consumer obssesion to reinvent the company. Otherwise it would be a great loss of US and world Interesting things to watch in 2018 - Will Google's entrance into console start taking people away from XBox? Can microsoft deliver with surface mobile?  Can they cerate excitment in mixed reality?  
  • I hate to agree, but I agree. As a developer, very few people that I know, and nobody that I work with directly, CHOOSE Microsoft's services over competing services anymore. Amazon, GCP, OS X, React Native -- the list goes on. Microsoft has made significant investments in the cloud with AI, ML, and quantum computing, but it's their tools that people move away from. Popularity is a very real component of this, and it's going to be just as true for developers and enterprises as it has been for consumers. I can't speak for everybody, just my own experiences. And my experiences and gut tell me that Microsoft is going to continue losing popularity among developers.
  • I'm not sure you're looking at the numbers.  Azure is killing it in the cloud space, and C# is one of the most popular and used languages out there.  I'm also not sure why you said "OS X".  It's so far and away the least popular platform for development, that it's basically irrelevant.  Swift and Obj C are nearly the least used languages, despite their high profile with a niche developers https://www.techworm.net/2017/03/top-20-popular-programming-languages-20... .  Visual Studio is easily the most used, most robust IDE out there, for Mac and PC. 
    But yeah, I agree though that Cortana is definitely lagging, in the case of a voice assistant; which is essentially a functionality to sell hardware (Google Home, Alexa, etc).
  • There's nothing on office that they've brought to the table since they won the war with Lotus 123 and WordPerfect back when Michael Jackson sang Give into Me.
    Xbox at least has seen some activity
  • They moved Office to the web and that was the right move for that particular suite. From here on out everything Office will be about the cloud and collaboration...which is the right path.
  • Don't forget about all the features they are -ripping out-.  For those that haven't been on the insider previews, say goodbye to cards very shortly.
  • I'm a long time Microsoft fan but after being burned time and time again over their consumer products that I embrace and evangelized, I've had to explore other options. Yes, my main PC is still a Windows machine (file/media/Plex server) and I use a Surface Book. For most of my remaining services, I've moved on to Google (Pixel, Google Home (Mini/Home/Max), Daydream, Google WiFi, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, Google Drive, Google Photos, Pixelbook). Their services still aren't as cohesive as I'd like but it is getting closer.  I loved Cortana when it first came out, especially on my Windows Phone where it handled SMS messaging via Bluetooth rather well. But beyond using it for search on a Windows 10 machine or on my XBOX one to do voice commands, I'm really not using it.  I do hope Microsoft makes a consumer rebound but after being burnt for so long and so many "coming next year" promises, I had to move on a little. 
  • What he said. ☝🏼
  • Same here. Still using windows 10 mobile and ms services but I have lost almost all hope for the MS consumer part. They seem to do fail at everything except for Cloud business. 
  • Microsoft seems like their desire is to fail. Why would you want to fail?
    Why are they intentionally sabotaging their own products? It's a serious question, and it makes me wonder. 🤔🤔🤔🤔
  • Because they aren't proud of them. They haven't been that good and they know it.
  • It should be noted that it's not just people who feel "burned" like you that are choosing Google services. Google simply offers some services where Microsoft doesn't, and more popular services where Microsoft does. So all the other people around you are also getting enshrined in Google's services.
  • You've described my setup, however I use Amazon consumer services not Google... Have a Blackberry Android phone with most Google Services disabled... Use my Surface Pro for business and Xbox for gaming... It's clear that MS has given up on consumer services apart from gaming... Android has been a joy to use having suffered with Windows Phone all these years...
  • Perfectly said, no further international roll out has been killing
  • Cortana is basically like Zune and Windows Phone/mobile.
  • And Silverlight. And Kinect. And Band. And partnering with Insteon. And Groove. And ...
  • Supposedly Insteon is back in Cortana, but I cant get it to work.   
  • Insteon works for me with Cortana and Invoke.
  • As in "all products that failed due to Microsoft's own incompetence, not due to products themselves".
  • Don't get it confused, Microsoft's incompetence created those mediocre products. It certainly was the products. If they had created good products, they would be easy to sell.
  • No, not 4 years later. Zune was better than iPod. You snooze you lose. That's the basic fact.  
  • Agree with everything you wrote, Zac
  • Totally agree with you Zac, I'm fed up with constantly seeing all these features being rolled out only to find they are US only. There is no excuse for leaving features out of markets that already have Cortana and not rolling it out to other countries.
  • In order for Cortana to be successful, Microsoft needs a cell phone device. That is why Cortana is failing. Putting it in iOS and Android  won't achieve that. The only one's using it on those platforms are people on Windows Central.  And marketing is non-existant. My mother doesn't know anything about technology, but somehow she knows what Siri and Alexa are. If I asked her what is Cortana, she would probably say what is a Cortana.  And quite honestly, I've only used Cortana a few times and found her really lacking. She was more useful when Master Chief plugged her in his helmet.
  • I don't think that's an issue when Cortana is available on Android or iOS as that's the mobile presence for Cortana from now on.
  • Yes but "normal" every day non techie people don't even know about it. So why woukd they even use it when the baked in Siri or Google Assstant work wayyy better on their platforms.
  • Cortana is right there on the taskbar in Windows, how much more obvious does it need to be!!!!
  • 100% right.  Windows Phone was never about mobile phone sales, but it was a service delivery platform.  Same with the Band, speakers, etc.  Amazon doesn't care if it makes or loses money on speakers, they are just the entry into your home and life for their services.  Same with Google and Android.  Microsoft should have been making more stuff, not less.  Nadella doesn't get that his services won't succeed riding the backs of products their competitors control.  He wasted jover $26B on Linkedin, paying double the market cap, and that money could have gone so many better places.  
  • did any one notice that you now have to say play on Groove when playing local music with cortana sad :(
  • Yes, so dissopointing. 
  • You can't go ahead and enter a feature in a product, when that product is used worldwide and has a vast marketshare, and than completely not put effort into making that feature available in a useful manner for all markets, That's absurd. It makes no sense to think Microsoft does not have the capacity or ability to provide Cortana for the whole world. They keep hiding behind the "we need to get localized date" excuse which is just that, an excuse and not fact. Even the most basic aspects of Cortana are absent on my PC and Lumia 950xl. Go to settings and Cortana is just search, nothing more. Basic search. The few times I attempted to get Cortana working by setting my PC to america it got screwed up over time, making a clean install the only solution, so no thanks. And with every article on Cortana I read on Windows Central, I think, useless, can't get that here so why bother. And that is not just a shame, it's an embarassment for Microsoft.
  • Exactly, especially when Google Assistant and Siri are available in most, if not all, of the world.
  • Can only agree with everyting you've said Zac. It is utterly baffling that they should apparently have lost interest and missed the boat again. If they've just lost interest in the consumer market then they should say so and get the hell out of it. Endless half-arsed products and services that just wither on the vine, often in spite of having potential, are a waste of time and money (theirs and ours). It's not good business. Personally, I think that would be a huge mistake - the lines between business and consumers are no longer what they were - but they need to get on with it one way or another.
  • Feels like there's a lack of vision for the company as a whole that encompasses every facet of Microsoft, not just one or two (cloud and office). That's why tech is created the falls into a black hole since it wont work seamlessly first of all with other Microsoft products and even worse with other ecosystems, resulting in poor sales and ultimately cancellation. I'm sure no one here is surprised by this analysis.
  • Told you. They lack CONVICTION. Nadella has to be fired. He is resting on the glory of Surface and many older Lumia technologies.
  • No. He is resting on the glory of massive (and growing) profits in the MS Cloud division. Right now within Microsoft, if it doesn't immediately increase the profits in the MS Cloud Computing Division it won't get any visibility with senior management. ALL new development $$$ are pointed at the MS Cloud; O365, Skype, XBOX, LinkedIn, Azure, MS AI, even MS Quantum Computing, those are all cloud-based so they get dev $$$ and the other things are left to languish as either mildly interesting research backwaters or slowly dying legacy maintenance silos. Cortana COULD have been big, but it was tied heavily to their now dead Windows Mobile strategy and so rapidly overtaken by Google and Amazon Alexa (Siri is a small-player in all this) that MS decided to do the exact same thing with it they did with Windows Phone. Cut their losses and let it shrivel and die on the vine. BUT, remember, THAT IS THE PLAN.  
  • Overall: Cortana > google Assistant > Siri But Google assistant recognize the voice faster than Cortana.
  • Even though I've moved to Google Assistant full time, I've always felt that Cortana was the best. I moved since going to Google Home and Pixel Phones. 
  • LOL this is hilarious!! Thanks for the laugh. Really needed that
  • You cannot be serious.  Of course you have a right to your opinion, but have you ever even used Google Assistant?  I hate to say it, but in my opinion it blows Cortana out of the water.  Zac is spot on in his assessment.  Early on, Cortana was a real player in the AI market.  Now, Cortana is barely better than the lowly Siri, and you can bet that Apple will continue to improve Siri, apparently unlike what MS is doing with Cortana.  The current state as I see it is that GA and Alexa are a cut above both Cortana and Siri, with Cortana only slightly better than Siri and that too will change soon enough.  
  • Siri>Cortana
  • I have a Google Home, but I wouldn't say it blows Cortana out of the water.  Adoption-wise, sure, but the functionality for all the voice assistants is pretty simple in the grand scheme of things.
  • Well that's the Microsoft I know, always killing off good stuff
  • Don't worry Zac, it's part of their Cortana retrentchement tactics. Like other US-only products, it will give it an edge in a year or two, just like it did for the Zune, the edge of the cliff is near.
    They'll have an easy job rationalizing its demise, explaining it got very little use globally anyway.
  • What really makes me mad is that the failures are so obvious, but many people here try to explain it in a "this is a strategic move" sense. As if anyone is realy paying attention to any of this at Microsoft. I remember every bad news about Windows Phone and Mobile was rationalized by people like Jason Ward and many other people here as though Microsoft had a hidden, grand scheme for making everythink great through a big comeback...giving off a "god moves in mysterious ways" vibe.
    Then you take an honest look at Microsoft and the only rational explanation you come to is "Oh, yeah they don't care."
  • That's why both Gates and Ballmer were better than Nadella, at least with them you could clearly see the direction in which Microsoft was headed, with Nadella who the **** knows in what direction Microsoft is headed.
  • Thank you for posting that comment.  It completely summarizes my feelings *claps hands*. 
  • This has, sadly, been typical Microsoft. Come first to market.....not see immediate and massive success, and then let it wither on the vine. Cortana on Windows 10 isn't bad. It does what I need it to do - which isn't much. I have an Invoke which I love and I'll probably buy one more. I don't care about Home Automation. All of those "skills" that are out there for other assistants are just plain nonsense. But that being said - Cortana absolutely should be expanded to all markets. 
  • You may not care about home automation, and I personally don't use it either. But the growth in this market is HUGE, many people around me use it and it gets a lot of press on tech sites as well. If you want to get into consumers' lives this is the best way.
  • I've got cortana (invoke, pc, and android) working quite nicely through smartthings and philips hue. Ifttt integration was recently added, making her vastly more useful. There is progress to be seen. That said... Cortana on xbox... Can't..... Which I just can't understand
  • Microsoft dropped the ball on just Cortana? Anything outside PC, Xbox, and Business services has been dropped. I hate being that negative person but I don't see Cortana lasting too much longer. My rose coloured glassed have broken, as has my faith in Microsoft. Should I call the time of death now or in 6 to 12 months?
  • next termination stop "Cortana"...well it lived for very long atleast in HALO... Nuttla Co. trying to find next big curve for Cortana...only thing is they missed that right now AI is still developing unlike smartphones. well whatever gald I havent invest in cortana nor going to... Hope MS Oems replace cortana and include Alexa on PC. Oh wait ya they already doing that..
  • Best thing MS could do with Cortana now is work out a deal with Samsung and replace that God awful Bixby. Beyond that, I've moved on. I wanted to like Cortana, but I could see the writing on the wall last year when Google brought their A game to play catchup, and MS brought an overpriced speaker. Apple did the same thing, but MS isn't Apple, and doesn't have the kind of ecosystem with consumers that Apple has. It's funny when I heard all of those people talking about how MS learned a lesson from losing out on mobile, and they won't let it happen again. Won't they?
  • I DESPISE that Bixby button on my Note 8. I wish I could reprogram it. 
  • You can. I did with a couple apps. BxActions and some others. I mapped to Cortana.
  • Not only it did not improve in all those years, it is loosing features. What happened to flight tracking? Also, instead of just doing what I ask, it now advertises to me the stuff I don't want. For example "Play $nameof theband$" used to just play it. Now it says "I can play it on iHeart Radio, you just need to download it" then it openes store where this app is marked as unavaliable for download and thats all. I have to specify "Play X on Groove" for it to work. This annoys me SOOO MUUUCH.
  • You're just figuring that out now?
  • "When Cortana first came to market in 2014, it was awesome. In many respects it was better than what the competition offered" -- Yes! This (and live tiles) was a large part of what initially attracted me away from Android... Budget version of Windows Phone handsets (Lumia 520) did all basic phone stuff well, plus a surprisingly helpful assistant. As noted, that same level of helpfulness is now no longer 'surprisingly helpful' in comparison to rapid gains in other competitors.
  • You could have stopped at "Microsoft really dropped the ball."
  • Will Microsoft next falter in mixed reality, VR, AR? Being first in it, than it sinks away in development hell?
  • VR as an entire industry already faltered (that's a nice way of saying it, "collapsed" is a less nice way) a year ago when the two primary producers--Occulus (and Facebook) and HTC (and Valve) put out hardware with sales that didn't even reach their most pessimistic expectations. By far the most successful non-phone VR device is PSVR--which still missed Sony's dates for 1 and 2 million units sold and is apparently has terrible current use rates (though at least people bought them initially, even if they stopped using them). MS has...what? A coherent tech standard, some software support, and a few devices. They're basically in cleaning deck furniture on what's a sinking ship (though I guess they're lucky enough not to actually own the ship, unlike Valve and Occulus).  Of course, that doesn't help Cortana--which exists in a marketplace that's actually growing and sustainable (unlike VR), but MS might've had the right idea not diving into that expensive disaster head first. 
  • Yeah, I think VR and AR are treading water waiting for some new tech to push it to the next level.  
  • Last time I checked on Steam WMR had about 8 games available for it but Vive and Occulus have at least 8 pages of games available for them.
  • Not suprising at all.. Microsoft is losing everywere.. new leadership ...new leadership, Its very Sad.. I lost all hope after windows phone 10 dropped... they cant even get cortana to work over bluetooth in the car on Android... New Leadership...and it may already be too late!
  • Sorry, but they're not losing in the Enterprise - only in the consumer space.
  • They will if they do the same thing they are doing to consumers and it's not like there aren't viable alternatives to Microsoft products out on the market.
  • I think it will share the same fate as WP
  • Actually, Cortana now is into the home automation circuit. The latest Insider live stream they spent considerable time talking about it's new capability and even demonstrated.  Could they do more? Absolutely.  Have I articulated several times what they REALLY need to focus on in order to catapault Cortana ahead of the competition?  Yup.  But it's a bit unfair to say they're not starting to get serious about this.  I totally agree that their complete lack of effort in the international market is a huge stain and will probably be their downfall if not addressed, though.  THAT really makes no sense at all.  What is it that Google or Apple are able to do with their assistants as far as penetration into those markets that Microsoft can't seem to crack?
  • That's only great if the WHOLE WORLD can use it which, sadly, they can't!!!
  • + 1000...however I agree that they will probably not pick the ball back up 😥
  • "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." I get notifications from google assistant all the time. I get notifications on traffic before I leave for work and when its time to go back home. It tracks when my bills are due. Tracks shipping, flight, weather, stocks etc without me promoting it. Google assistant is great. I love "whats on my screen" feature. I use it all the time.   P.S. Also dont forget Android Auto! Google maps is awesome!
  • That was the big selling point when Google Now was announced. It would preemptively give you notifications for things it think you might need. It works well for the things you mention, but they haven't expanded that functionality much since.
  • Microsoft is dropping the ball on everything. Mobile Cortana and Xbox. Have no clue what they are doing right now
  • Surface, Azure, and posting record profits comes to mind.
  • The Surface is doing well?  Or doing well for Microsoft?
  • I still love and use Cortana everyday. She reads my text messages to me. Allows me to reply to them. I set my alarms by her and she turns on and off lights when I ask. Do I wish MS would really develop her. Yes yes oh yes. So much potential lost. I get so tired of their short attention span and their self admitted "shiny object distractions." OH another feature of hers I like is when I say "remind me when I get to the office to check on X" and when i pull into the office parking lot the reminder pops up. Always wished though that she would verbally remind me.  
  • So pretty much the same stuff it did 3 years ago. Tech moves quickly, Microsoft doesn't.
  • As I tried to say, I wish they would have developed her more. But unless something has recently changed Siri still can't do those things I mentioned above save for maybe setting an alarm and turning lights on and off with home automation.
  • Though I'm a little disappointed with MSFT for putting Cortana on hold or whatever, I do feel a 💪🏼 🤞🏼 that it will turn out good after Andromeda launch. Cortana started to go off track after W10M life support. Ppl need Cortana on their hands all the time, if Mobile means something to MSFT then it will come out right.
  • Cortana on my MS Band2 was awesome!
  • I used to use her all the time through my Band.
  • I've thought about this long and hard over the last few years (as I'm sure we all have). A lot of people have mentioned that MS come to market with something really innovative and then appear to lose interest and finally retrench. I really wonder whether they're just too big a company, trying to be all things to everyone. Jack of all, master of none springs to mind. I just wish they'd throw their massive weight behind something for a change. Go 'all in' and 'go hard or go home'.
  • They did.  It's called Azure.  As a consumer, you can pretty much ignore MS now, unless you're an XBox person, which I am not.
  • Google is coming after Xbox too... Microsoft leaders must have already started planning their retreat 😀
    In the 90s the policy was super aggressive "embrace and exterminate" now under the new management it's "yield and retreat" 😀
  • Exactly, Microsoft needs Gates or Ballmer back as CEO.
  • I really don't understand Microsoft... Why is the ONLY company who does everything wrong for consumer side. They drop products one after the other...they don't support other countries except us and few of them on UK. Why why I really don't get it.... Why Apple, Amazon and Google are much better and they always get in front.... I don't get it at all. Steve ballmer have sunk Microsoft stock but he tried a lot for core Microsoft and it's identity....so they decided to give a new face with new decisions, visions etc...but nothing...I am really really disappointed :( I know as MS fan it is very awful to see that but I will never understand why this is happening...
  • "Steve ballmer have (sic) sunk Microsoft stock but he tried a lot for core Microsoft and it's (sic) identity..." You mean like when ol' Stevo laughed at the iPhone and then, in desperation after the fact, lost MS $10bil with his ill-fated purchase of Nokia's phone division to try and play catch up?  I wouldn't be waxing poetic about his rather sorry reign.  Everyone who's judging Nadella harshly for his virtual abandonment of the consumer space likely don't have any MS common stock.  As an investment, MS is doing just fine.  
  • At least he wasn't afraid to try though and it's not like Microsoft have no money to spend.
  • I think they have given up on consumers.  Amazon and Google own that space.  MS lost in that space.   Consumers want similar things at work - easier to adapt to. I think Amazon will crush Azure and other huge coulds will appear.  MS will have only Xbox....
  • The quality of MS software seems to be slipping. Edge has deteriorated. The grammar & more checker in Office 2016 seems to be nothing more of than a shell. If they don't want the expense of building quality products, build fewer of them but make quality stuff. 
  • Suits me to be honest, the less MS bother with cortana, the less chance of MS trying to re-enable it on my computer. 
  • This lol. As long as I can turn it off I'll be content.
  • Tried it a few times so far and it's not much use, just wish I could delete it from please give me the option please, it's crap
  • Satya Nadella needs to announce his retirement from Microsoft, he has done so much damage to the brand reputation, the slogan Mobile First, Cloud First are just words, Microsoft has turned into an IBM or HP Enterprise, all they care about is multi billion dollar Fortune 500 companies which put billions on Azure and Office cloud services
  • I use Cortana with my automated home everyday. Everyday.
  • I think that they have attention deficite disorder.  They invent a cool product and then loose interest in it about a month after it is rolled out to the public.  Then, they move on to the next neet product only to neglect the succesful products in their wake. There is no doubt that there are innovative people at Microsoft.  They come up the the good ideas.  Great products and services.  Microsoft corporation fails to market many of these products.  When have you seen a Cortana/Invoke television commercial?  How about a comercial for a competing product?  The same lack of marketing killed Zune, Windows Phone, Kinect, etc.  Hololens will soon drift off as well.  MARKETING!!!!  They can stick with save old Office and Azure and Windows but those products only have a few more years left before competition cuts them down to 1/3 the size that they are now. Invest in the future.  Invest in the cool products that you already have!!!  Great scientists at Microsoft create great inventions.  Terrible marking kills them all.  So sad to watch.
  • I get the feeling that everything at Microsoft is on hold if it is not AI on Azure, Office, or Windows 10.  Cortana is still a brand that can be saved and i can be by simply updating it on Xbox One, speeding up the redo of the UI they are in the process of on Windows 10, and getting it to more markets.  Cortana was also said to be slowly going to new markets so that it could be given a unique personally that reflected each market.  They need to scrap that for now and add that later, it just holds up people ever using it.  If they don't act quickly, Cortana will be the next Windows 10 Mobile!
  • This isn't really news. This is Nadella's vision for Microsoft - dealing in SaaS. He's undone all the good work of his predecessors in quite a short space of time. I think he's actually employed by Google. 
  • Cortonna is a symptom of the bigger ball they dropped when they hired a CEO who said " I did not get why the world needed the third ecosystem in phones". Might as well have shutdown Cortana, Winodws Phone, Bing, Home Automation, Auto Ingration" and probalby serval more as soon as he became CEO.
  • Wow, who'da thought? Microsoft creating a product with great potential only to half-ass its implementation and integration into its ecosystem and hobble it with constant inaction, backstepping, just complete lack of direction. I seriously can't think of another company that can make products and then be so timid to continue with it. It's really hard to want to invest into any Microsoft product given that they might just pull the plug on it at any moment.
  • Might it be time to ask at least one question .... what ball has MS not dropped since Nadella took over? Windows Central should be pushing for an interview with nadella and asking him to explain, without his usual psycho-babble, exactly where MS will be in 5 years under his management. What products will they support, what new stuff, why did he take the decisions he took? The bloke has had a free ride to date and it's time to put his feet to the fire.
  • I'd like to see that interview.
  • They create great stuff and then abandone them.
  • Honestly I don't care anymore. I am looking for replacements for Microsoft’s solutions that work and run my DAW, etc. The only reason i looked here is that I started a Facebook petition group for Cortana in Norwegian. Now that they have let me down too many timed, i learn, and adapt. I don’t like being let down and avoid it. Microsoft has broken the trust i had in them. Now I look elsewhere.
  • Just Windows tablet/Windows mobile all over again. Missing the boat and willing to walk away leaving a trail of third party kludges to somehow half assedly attempt to interconnect your desktop life with your mobile (now smarthome) life. Sure, things (those interconnects) to make that all happen have greatly improved over the last decade, but I just shudder to think how much MS left on the table.
  • To be honest as a former long-time Microsoftie, other than Xbox I’ve stopped caring about Microsoft as a company. I’ve watched them ignore their consumer market for the last 6 years. This de-emphasis on consumers started before Nadella took over, but is getting faster with him at charge. Cortana by the way hasn’t just been ‘forgotten’. She has always been gutted in a lot of ways I can’t talk too openly about. There’s a reason she seems less fluid in conversation and no longer handles contextual conversations after all.
  • What's the reason?
  • Replace 'Cortana' with:
    Mobile
    Selling music
    Augmented reality
    In car
    Zune
    Local media management
    Windows feature 'updates'
    Wearables
    Pretty much anything wise they have shown promise on which is consumer facing apart from Xbox and Surface. And my surface Pro 3 gets incredibly hot under no load and the fan runs most of the time 😕
  • Dear god....let's stop saying "Microsoft has dropped the ball". Holy hell...WE ALL KNOW WHO DROPPED THE BALL. The $&%*#%*(@ denial around here is insane. My goal is to be a CEO one day, run it like a clueless imbecile, and have thousands of loyalist defend my incompetence in online forums and chat threads. Wow. Unless the editorialist from sites like this start calling for this fools occupational head, he isn't going anywhere. The writers of articles on sites like this have far more influence than they think. They won't have anything to write about in 5 years if they don't start rallying the troops. I've called him a clown all along, and he has done nothing but prove me right.
  • Ditto
  • Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows 8 during Ballmer. The dude basically called iPhone a joke. They failed Zune and many more services. It's not just Nadella, it's Microsoft. But at this particular moment it's Nadella. Regarding the loyalists, these people desperately want something to attach to. They can't just grow up and understand the duality of criticize bad moves and praise good moves for the company they've already stuck to. I seriously got mad when they kept repeating Windows 8 was awesome and "people just can't handle change" as if there is no good or bad change at all. Most of them would start using a stick as an OS if it was made by Microsoft.
  • Zune failed because Apple people convinced everyone that it was a joke, when it fact it was far from it. Microsoft should have learned their lesson about that is what happens when you don't advertise enough and let your competition's loyalist dictate your reputation.
  • That happened before Nadella is my point.
  • Pointing to one device (which they made generation after generation and didn't bail on) has nothing to do with what Nutella has done with this mess.
  • Zune failed because it didn't have iTunes. The devices may have been nice, but Microsoft didn't have the services to support them effectively. Overall, it was a sub par product.
  • Yes, Zune had the Zune Marketplace which offered the same services. It didn't catch on simply because it came later. Despite what you keep claiming, the Zune didn't "suck" and yet, it failed to catch on. Exact same thing happened with Windows Phone. Except with WP Microsoft gave up after restarting everything from 7 to 8, and that's their incompetence. WP7 and 8 were fine products on their own, just like Zune was. What Microsoft did - and didn't do - with them eventually failed them.
  • It also didn't catch on because it didn't exist outside the US.  Kind of hard to gain market share if you don't even make it available for purchase.
  • As much as I'd want Cortana to succeed, the truth is I'm not really sure how much it matters.  I have a Google Home and honestly, the only impressive thing it does is play music or take a command for home automation.  It's really not that useful, outside of that.
  • Ms are to consumer products as Apple are to compatibility and choice. Ms have no clue when it comes to consumer stuff, they had 100% market share of the smartphone market in the early 2000 they just did nothing with it and lost it all. They are idiots with consumer. They need to separate the divisions and have a CEO for each. Plus cortana simply doesn't work especially on Xbox... If you get a message it says, say open that to open it, I have yet to have this work because it is simply too slow to understand what you say then recognise it and then do as you ask. By the time it realises message has gone and it helpfully tells you it either doesn't understand or can't do that. That's why people don't use it, it's pointless.
  • MS is just de-expanding to just enterprise software company, they do not have the fortitude or desire.. While Amazon is expanding into every little crack they can get into like banking etc.. Wouldn't surprise me Amazon buying out MS if enough money was offered
  • Every consumer product they touch seems to die.  Pure and simple.  One of the greatest companies ever and they cant seem to do anything right in the consumer field.  Zune, Phone, Groove, et al.  Sad!
  • How unusual, MS has once again dropped the ball in the consumer space.
  • Zac, I have to use the famous.... Thanks Capitan Obvious for this article! Agree with everything you say btw!
  • Completely agree. Just yesterday I was looking for a way to get text messages on my PC. I thought "Maybe my Android can do Cortana like WP can" . Ummm...no. MS Launcher has Cortana, but apparently a different Cortana I guess??? Then my PC needed an hour of Googling to get the "continue on pc" to work. And Cortana still can't "call" my car the way it could on WP, though a simple $2 app can. Now I go to try again and Cortana has crashed on my phone. Really MS, do you even want us to use your stuff? Just go and buy pushbullet please, because that is what actually seems to work.
  • You read the comments on articles like these and all you see are assertions that MS is a company dead in the water (despite continuing to make money hand over fist) because they aren't pandering to your desires specifically. Here's the thing - not everything is for you and they don't owe you a damn thing. So deal.
  • looking at the revenue streams...they woudl have been there anyway.  Nutella did nothing to make it better.  Azure leading the charge w/cloud .  Nothing new, nothing significant since he came to  leading the ship
  • MS may be making money now, but if they continue pulling back from the consumer market they'll continue to lose mindshare overall and that will result in a much smaller company with progressively less influence in the world of computing.  
  • This is what happens when you have incompetence leading the charge.  Nutella needs to go.
  • Bingo biongo
  • But Zac..Zac...'Language is hard'. At least, that's what Microsoft's favourite apologist keeps telling us.  Thanks to Zac and Jez for telling things like it really is for the frustrated consumer. I've moved on from Cortana. I'm in a country who's first language is english, and I got sick of waiting. Like everyone else probably.
  • And why are we truly surprised? Another Microsoft product that had great potential yet gets smashed to be a nonstarter. Joining the ranks of Microsoft Band, Groove, Kinect, Windows Mobile/Phone, etc. etc. So much potential yet so slow off the mark everyone else is able to get their systems off the ground and mature by the time Microsoft decide what voice to use. Urgh
  • Nutella should drop his own balls as well.
  • Yep.
  • In Microsoft's defense: I don't think anyone took Alexa seriously at 1st because it lacked a screen/visual component. I think Cortana works pretty well on the devices on which it's available. I don't know where the idea that it sucks on Windows 10 and Xbox One comes from. Cortana has been available on all Android and iOS devices long before Alexa was. It seems that rather than making Cortana an AI assistant for your life in general - as Alexa seems to be - Microsoft is aiming it at assisting you in using services and devices you already have.  
  • "At first"? It's just been 3 YEARS since Cortana's last update! It was first introduced 5 YEARS AGO! What "at first"?! 5 yeas is ages in the tech world!
  • On point Zac. It's frustrating to see Cortana frooze just like that. Microsoft is building a habit of doing it first and let others do it better...
  • Well said, Zac. Thurrott and MJF grilled Chris Caposella about this the last time he spoke to them. His response was along the lines of "Yeah Cortana relies really heavily on Bing, so in markets where Bing is weak, Cortana is weaker, and we don't want to roll out Cortana if the experience isn't gonna be any good." To say that four years ago, fine. But in 2018 it's not cutting it anymore. I'm tired of the excuses. Here in Australia, Google Assistant has gone from strength to strength. It's known and well-regarded in mainstream culture now. Cortana arrived on our Android phones almost 3 years after the US got it, and it sucks. Bing has been here for 9 years and it sucks. The Australian Bing blog makes about 3 posts per year at best. The search results are terrible. They don't care a jot for consumers and they care even less for consumers outside of America. Bing and Cortana have zero cultural capital because Microsoft doesn't care. To use Cortana here is embarrassing for how unreliable it is. Bing is a punchline. Microsoft, for the love of god, either invest some resources and effort into fixing this stuff or spare us the misery of it, please.
  • I have 5 windows 10 devices and cannot remember the last time I used Cortana.
  • I see many other people are calling this clown Nutella also. Lmao. Glad it's catching on. This guy doesn't deserve a proper addressing.
  • Microsoft seems quite afraid of having a consumer facing device or feature succeed. The moment any of these devices or features gain ground, they get abandoned. Surface is bought mostly by business people so it remains. But strictly consumer? They don't want those to succeed because then they have to develop and support it in the future.
  • Microsoft is on a suicide mission. You can't take them seriously anymore!
    Time for a new leader?
  • "Hey Cortana, why does Microsoft hate you"
  • Cortana has always worked well for m. Along with Bing - and I am not in the US. Does MS not see the ability to grow what they have?
  • They'll kill her off soon enough.
  • Microsoft has dropped more balls than a one-armed juggler. Its bleeding obvious that they are moving away - in fact HAVE moved away - from consumer products. Articles like this, where the writer is stunned to see product X fail, come across about as sincere as "I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here". But hey, continue to Round Up The Usual Suspects.
  • Please don't ask, when Cortana got the last new features outside US. Better ask, when is Microsoft stopping to make Cortana worse every month :( 3 years ago, I used her a lot... now I'm still trying sometimes but have to use old-fashioned way much more. It's like Nadella fired the one guy who knew about Cortana development.
  • I remember Cortana on WP8.1. It was fine. After that junk windows 10 came out...it all went sideways
  • I love my tech and have a powerful computer and flagship Android phone. I always run the newest versions of Windows way before they are released to the general public.  But I'm already very uneasy about the data collection of all these companies and don't like the loss of privacy, I don't trust any of them. I keep things locked down as much as I can without losing all my functionality on the devices. I refuse to use any of these assistants, I don't care how useful they are. I have to draw the line somewhere and always listening assistants is it.
  • Just like every single other consumer experiment, Microsoft puts it out, does a half ass job at developing it, drops the ball and falls behind other competitors quickly, and kills it prematurely. This is the same story all over again. Fail. Again. Nothing new to see here. Again.
  • Its Deja Vu All Over Again.  
  • By the end of this year Cortana will be killed off by that moron...because why does the world need another virtual assistant?
  • Bring back Tay!
  • Speaking of starting out strong and letting stagnate/half baked features... Let's talk about Edge!
  • New markets is absolutely crucial now, I've waited years for Cortana to come to Sweden. I love my Lumia 950 but hate that I can't use Swedish with Cortana. I think this could be the last tipping point for me. Let's say there will be a surface phone , I think that there are still many with me that gladly will go ahead and buy it . (PWA gives hope and I don't use many apps anyway). BUT if the Swedish language isn't supported by Cortana by then I will not buy it.
    (there is a MS garage project Dictate that support Swedish, why not Cortana? )
  • Perhaps this is the reason they put a new guy at the helm? As the MS fanboy I am I choose to believe he will turn the boat and expand Cortana lining up with the release of the "what ever you call it non cellphone mobile device you can call and text with".
  • The worst thing with not having Cortana is how other none Cortana features is tied with it and thus not available. Silent Hours, like, WTF!!!
  • Good news! 
    https://seekingalpha.com/news/3335644-axios-microsofts-cortana-gets-new-...
  • I think the only way for Microsoft to let Cortana survive is to incorporate it directly into apps. Like they are doing now with Edge and Outlook. Should also be done with Office apps. Bing.com and as a 3rd party component for other apps. These apps / Cortana must also support CarPlay and Android Auto because that's were people use assistents mostly imo.
    Cortana on WP was already better than Siri is currently. The thing is that MS forced everybody to iOS and Android and thus to Siri and Google Assist.
  • Wasn't this discussed about 12 months ago? I'm glad I don't read or follow these articles anymore and I'm even more glad I don't read the comments section. To hold and voice an opinion on a companies strategy is entirely pointless and a waste of energy. Microsoft, like any company, is trying to survive and it might succeed and it might not, it will grow and it will shrink but experience tells us that they will not listen to Joe public and the voice of a few vocal folk.  
  • Instead of just repeating what everyone has said a million times in the comments, why not use your supposed insider status to actually give people an idea of ***WHY*** MS is ignoring the world?
  • The reality is in the business realm you focus on what is getting you the best return on your investment.  It's a reciprocating question, because the answer is always the same.  Why didn't MSFT push Windows Phone/ Mobile more?  The Kinect more?  Groove more?  The same reason you haven't seen an OSX commercial in years.  Heck, when was the last time Apple emphasized the Ipad?  Apples has a full frontal focus on the iPhone and that's where there energy is at.  MSFT's focus in on Azure and cloud computing.  Think about this....how many commercials has MSFT produced about anything in the past three years?  How many of those commercials were about some form of cloud usage?  Those commercials aren't even that innovative from an individual consummer level, but look at the context of the advertisement.  it's all about corporate infrastructure.  As a shareholder I have a two pronged mindset on this matter.  For all the slights that Nadella is getting from the consumer space...He's being praised in the corporate space, and MSFT is making more money that it ever has, so where do you think the focus is going to continue to be.  Ballmer tried to reshape MSFT into a more consumer friendly experience, and Nadella has continue that, albeit on a far lesser level.   It's hard to find fault with the direction of MSFT from a purely logical perspective. It would just be nice to see them focus a little more on the consumer space.
  • My perception is Microsoft got into too many things away from their core business especially with 10.  If 10 is not working correctly to users satisfaction then why spend an inordinate amount of time and money on other things that may not work well with it.  It is like building a house, why try to build the roof first when you don't even have the walls in place to support it.  In this case the wall are the devices they are working to get into the hands of everyday consumers to stay connected with the rest of the world.  Phones did not pan out because of so much time and effort into continually making something new every yeat to stay competitive.  Get the walls in place and then get the services on those devices out to the people so they have a great experience out of the gate instead of promising something is always on the way.
  • Windows 10 not working correctly? What are you talking about?
  • 2016.
    WP: we want to do an article about progress with Bing localization
    MS: No
    WP: ok then 2017.
    WP: we want to do an article about progress with Bing localization
    MS: No
    WP: ok then 2018.
    MS: why is everyone so angry about Bing localization? Get an article out there pronto!
    WP: so can you give us an insight into WHY the rollout is so slow?
    MS: No
    WP: not gonna be a positive article then, all we got has been said a million times before in the comments
    MS:
  • The windows explorer needs to be refreshed in UWP fashion with Cortana as a sort of a core feature of it. Windows 10 looks and feels too scattered right now and it's new features just a paint job ; not what one will expect from a futuristic OS.
  • It's really tough reading an article and agreeing with every word. What is going on?
  • Remember, MSFT is no longer interested in the consumer market. Very innovative with many consumer first products, only to abandon them because it seems they are afraid of success.
  • You may just change your mind when Andromeda hits. Business needs it and business has always been the driver.
  • just wish i could delete cortana, have tried it few times doesn't work for me, just wish i could replace it with google assistant this actually give me notice of traffic jams etc cortana didn't
  • The only path i see Microsoft taking is the IBM way. They will probably not have any consumer facing products in the near future except for the xbox. Look at what amazon, a company that really had no business in software a few years back, has done with Alexa. It's wildly successful and competes well against Google Home.... If Amazon can come up with Alexa and make it successful, it just tells me Microsoft is just incompetent. I dunno what needs to happen at ms but neither Ballmer nor Nadella really worked and have more misses than hits specially considering that you would assume ms has very bright engineers. MS desperately needs a visionary leader as ceo. Maybe Amazon and MS can merge and have Bezos be the ceo.
  • Well, just Windows, Office, Surface, mice, keyboards, Andromeda.
    Don't forget, business is and has always been the driver.
  • Microsoft has dropped the ball on everything consumer focused since Nadella took over.
  • I fully agree with Zac, if anything if MSFT doesn't get it's house in order with Cortana, they should completely drop it from future builds and make a better search algorithm that can work seamlessly and well with the win 10 ecosystem without the need of an assistant.