Microsoft Launcher for Android losing Cortana by 'end of April'

Cortana inMicrosoft Launcher
Cortana inMicrosoft Launcher (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is set to drop Cortana support in Microsoft Launcher for Android.
  • The company says support will go away "by the end of April."
  • This is part of a larger set of changes coming to Cortana across all platforms.

Microsoft announced today that Cortana services will soon be dropped from Microsoft Launcher for Android. Microsoft plans to discontinue Cortana services in Microsoft Launcher by the end of April. The company outline the move in a blog post about some larger changes coming to Cortana.

This move is part of a larger shift in Microsoft's Cortana strategy. Rather than being an assistant across devices, Microsoft is focusing the AI backbone of Cortana towards making people more productive. "This next step in Cortana's evolution will bring enhanced, seamless personal productivity assistance as a free update to the latest version of Windows 10 coming this spring," Microsoft said in today's blog post.

There are further casualties as part of this process, beyond Cortana in Microsoft Launcher. Microsoft also announced that it is dropping Cortana support in versions of Windows 10 that have reached their end-of-service dates, including Windows 10 Mobile. Further, Cortana skills are being dropped entirely.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

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

  • I think Katy Perry wrote this song for Microsoft after promoting windows phone "You change your mind like a girl changes clothes
    Yeah, you, PMS like a ****, I would know
    And you over think always speak cryptically
    I should know that you're no good for me 'Cause you're hot then you're cold
    You're yes then you're no
    You're in then you're out
    You're up then you're down"
  • I can't read ****.
  • ' "This next step in Cortana's evolution will bring enhanced, seamless personal productivity assistance "' ...sounds vaguely like Clippy...
  • It sounds like the conversational UI previewed at Build 2019.
  • Lol. So true
  • Cortana disappeared from my MS Launcher (USA) at the end of January. The one thing I really used Cortana for that I can't find an acceptable alternative is adding-via-speech a MS ToDo item WITH smart dates. With Cortana, you could speak the "remind me to..." and it would automatically fill in the date/time if you gave her one. It blows my mind that the ToDo app has no other smart date capabilities anywhere else that I can find (I heard they gave it to iOS recently, but Android is out of luck so far). I'll also miss Cortana's calendar outlook on Android. Google Assistant only looks at Google Calendar, which is dumb. GA has no ability to see my work calendar or any other calendars besides Google. MS has the right idea with integrating with as many services as possible and not requiring you to stay entirely in the MS ecosystem.
  • I'm in the exact same boat. Its so practical to just be able to tell Cortana to remind you of something at a set time or place. But apparently Microsoft's productivity vision is opening the app, selecting an arbitrary list, typing it in, selecting a custom date and fiddling with the clock UI to select your time of reminder? And even then location-based reminders are gone for good? What were they thinking?
  • I use Alexa for this since there's an app that integrates ToDo. Also Cortana works with Alexa (for now) so that's also an option.
  • I dropped my Windows phone about a year ago for Android. One of the main reasons I installed Microsoft launcher was for Cortana. Serious question: what's the benefit of Microsoft launcher over the native experience once Cortana is gone?
  • I'm wondering the same thing.. I was looking forward to the Duo, but what's the point in that either, for me at least...
  • Absolutely. I did exactly the same. I honestly feel a bit betrayed.
  • There's a ton of customization. I used to use nova and every now and then would try other launchers, but no matter what I'd try I'd go back to nova. Microsoft launcher was the only launcher that made me permanently switch. Yes losing cortana sucks but for me that's far from the only reason why I switched.
  • I'm not interested in customization at all. I don't want to spend time searching and researching, basically WORKING at it. I just want something simple that works for me. MS launcher is that, what I don't like is losing functionality like Cortana that was essential to me.
  • Exactly.. I thought the whole idea of being a beta tester was to help with new features ect., but they seem to remove more than they add and feedback seems to be totally ignored. I'm using this since it was Arrow launcher and back then it was great and I looked forward to what they added next. Now I'm afraid to update because they'll end up breaking something or removing something..
  • Cortana on Android was terrible. Good riddance. Looking forward to seeing how MS will make it actually useful.
  • In general I agree, though as pointed out it did help with Outlook and Calendar integration.
  • I recommend Alexa. It works just as well.
  • Alexa doesn't work with Outlook or Microsoft services.
  • My email begs to differ. I use Outlook with Alexa perfectly fine. Granted, you're not going to get everything natively, but you can add Appointment Assistant for Outlook as a skill and it works perfectly. This is just an example. Also, as I mentioned in another comment, there's also a skill that integrates ToDo, and there's also Cortana itself as a skill for Alexa, so you can have everything work similarly anyway.
  • Will it still be available as an App though?
  • No - the Cortana app for Android was killed off last year...
  • it is still listed in the Google Playstore and was updated in November 2019. Is it going away?
  • In most regions it no longer functions even if installed.
  • Yes, it's going away - stopped working and no longer listed in UK store...
  • What does that even mean, "a personal productivity assistant" making me more productive? Hey Cortana, read my last email from Dave. Schedule a meeting with Dave at the Starbucks. Invite Carol too. What exactly is a tall coffee? Remind me to buy Certs on the way home. Play my Spotify playlist at 8 tonight on my Invoke and set an alarm to wake me at 6 in the morning. If she can't do more than just the first couple items then she is only making my life less than half productive.
  • Seriously, Thiiiiiiiis this this this ^
  • This.
    In the end, this might just be a rebranding, moving the same (good or crappy, up to you) Cortana to a different app
  • I have a question? Skills go away... Alexa Xbox spotify ifttt and smart home or the very basic useless skills? Like foot ball scores?
  • which therefore means I cannot control my Invoke Speaker using my phone, or even check to see the name of the music and composer currently playing.
  • I just found this on "Users still will be able to do things like control certain smart home devices and speakers -- including the Harman Kardon Invoke -- via Cortana but only using the Cortana apps for iOS and Android, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed when I asked. f you have an Invoke speaker, which is powered by Cortana, and you want to keep using it, you'll need Cortana for iOS or Android. Windows won't be an option for controlling it at all, the spokesperson confirmed" From Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft | February 28, 2020 -- 18:43 GMT (10:43 PST) | Topic: Artificial Intelligence which is good thing
  • I'm confused why is Cortana in the new Microsoft launcher preview if it's going away? Something doesn't jive there.
  • Probably left in from earlier builds when they started that branch of development - it's only preview, they can easily pull it.
  • I haven't used Cortana in months, at least not on the surface, or to my knowledge... It would be cool if MS/Google would just integrate Google Now into Windows.
  • Cortana was already killed for Launcher for my region, or language or something. I take it this happened to everyone outside US-English. So this is not really something new. We switched to Google Assistant and while it works, it sucks not being able to use Outlook Calendar and Microsoft services. Which makes it a moot point to use an assistant AND Microsoft services. this is really lame, MS.
  • Master Chief would be so ashamed...
  • Does this mean that Cortana will no longer read my text messages to me when I'm in the car over bluetooth?
  • Reading emails and text messages are productivity features. They will still be there in the new Cortana.
  • Except Cortana isn't going to be supported on W10M much longer.
  • I am not talking about W10M, that OS is dead! I am talking about Microsoft Android devices and Window 10X devices.
  • Did it do that on Android? It will probably be totally dead or fully neuteredby the time the Neo launches.
  • Cortana didn't do that in my NON-US region anyway.
  • Here is a link to the source blog post on the Windows Blog. It answer some of the questions being asked.
  • Here is a link to the source blog post on the Windows Blog. It answer some of the questions being asked.
  • I use Launcher 10...can't let go of LiveTiles.
  • Same.
    I just don't understand why MS doesn't release a proper Live Tile launcher. One can dream!
  • Killing Cortana on Android will force people to move to Google Assistant and eventually Google Calendar and Gmail. I don't know how they can't see it.
    Plus Cortana is the most human like of all digital assistants and had the most potential of all. I can't understand why they are killing it (because that's what they are doing, no matter how they communicate). It makes no sense.
  • That would only be an issue if a relevent number of people were using Cortana in the first place. The numbers are so low, this isn't a concern.
  • It's a concern to those of us who are using Cortana.
  • Why would you still be using Cortana? Microsoft hasn't been quiet about it being phased out.
  • Most people on Android will bias to Google, since the services are native and work better, and the account is mandated anyways. Cortana is far less useful than Bixby due to lack of system access. She really needed to be a hit on Windows Desktop, but she flopped there. And after seeing the Android fanboys complain about Bixby, Microsoft likely doesn’t want to deal with the bad reviews on their debut Android devices. On my Note 9 I generally use Microsoft but actually prefer Googles apps and services. They just work far better on that platform, and Google actually has a complete content and productivity ecosystem. On a Surface phone you’re going to need third party providers for Music, eBooks, AudioBooks, etc. Office is generally a waste of money as Google Drive/Docs And iWork are more than enough and have just as good Mobile apps (arguably better in the case of Apple). Lol. Microsoft’s users may have to use Google Maps and Google Pay, as well, among other things. I’d certainly use a google Photos over OneDrive, since Microsoft refuses to create a legit Photo/Video locker and OneDrive sucks for multimedia content (Photos, Videos, Music). The Play/YouTube Music Locker is going to be dead to, as well. Using a Microsoft phone will feel worse than straddling the Google/Samsung ecosystem, due to even more service redundancy and overlap. Get ready for just as many redundant apps, as well.
  • No one cares... Happy with the stock launcher on my Huawei P30 pro... Microsoft are no longer an innovator... Live tiles will be gone soon... Ha ha... Trying to avoid MS services where ever I can... Loving my P30 Microsoft... Surface will be the next to close it's only a matter of time...
  • Can anyone just make me understand what is going on, JUST WHY THEY ARE DOING SO?? !!
  • Because you are a consumer. Microsoft does not care about you. Period. Microsoft has gone back to their roots. It is Enterprise only from here on out. They tried to get consumer interest - with a pretty full range of consumer products - and everything failed. Phones, MP3 players, books, Groove music, Cortana, Invoke Speaker, etc. Consumer products are not Microsoft’s strength. They never have been and never will be. You might as well complain about Apple not selling Oracle DB servers. That is not Apple’s strength, and never will be.
  • Two things (both MS's fault): 1. You develop and integrate the best tech period, but have a VERY LAME marketing team so no one know about the best tech.. That is until Apple gets finally integrates it years later (e.g. bluetooth, nfc, location-based reminders) and markets it so well, you'd think they invented it. 😤 And, 2) Once you develop a band of loyalists who are anxiously awaiting the day your marketing team gets it together, you decide to kill off to features that we actually love!!! And, you don't provide any type of roadmap or vision of the future to at least get us excited about what comes next. From the Surface launch to Windows Phone to Windows 10 Mobile to MS Launcher and now Cortana... Things keep falling apart and you don't understand why, yet you never look in the mirror to figure out if you may be the cause of why things keep falling apart. Unleash your engineers, replace your marketing team, be ballsy and stay committed. Is that too much to ask? Dang.
  • I can't tell you how many times I've repeated these exact words. Its hard to be an MS fan! Until an Apple fan starts telling me how awesome it is that Siri can do location based reminders now. Nokia did that 6 years ago!
  • But your Nokia phone is long gone. Rather than beating your head against the wall, trying to be an MS fan, why not just get an iPhone if location based reminders are important to you? Why try to “be a fan” at all? Why not just be practical?
  • You don't need Siri or Cortana to do location based reminders. Both Google Assistant and Bixby do that on Android. You can get a better camera, more features and more customization on Android than iOS.
  • Everyone knew about Cortana. No one cared. There were commercials about her. Billboards. Blog posts everywhere. Tons of YouTube videos. Windows Mobile existed, and she was the voice of Windows 10. The failure of these services is not the fault of Microsoft. Don’t confuse yourself thinking the fanboys here are anything but a blip in the overall smartphone and desktop markets. The people who are even willing to run a third party launcher on their Android phones are a small part of the market. Those running a Microsoft launcher are... barely noticeable.
  • Alright **** this bullshit company.
  • I'd prefer that they stop calling it Cortana at this point. Cortana was "cool". Personal productivity is not.
    I'm not saying that this new assistant isn't useful. It just isn't what Cortana was supposed to be.
  • How do you know “what Cortana was supposed to be”?
  • Seems like since Satya took over, we keep loosing stuff. W10M, Cortana... Soon live tiles.
    Let's go back to no assistant a cross devices, static icons and being forced to choose Android or iOS for our mobile solution.
  • Live Tiles died with Windows 8.x They still exist, literally, but I don’t remember ever seeing a Windows 10 machine out in the wild without the start menu collapsed to a list. The only machines I see like that are in stores. They probably should get rid of that, because they aren’t of much use, anyways.
  • This is just speculation but it makes sense. Here are the key facts:
    The Surface Duo will leverage Microsoft Launcher
    The Surface Duo will ship with Google Mobile Services (GMS). This is how Microsoft can get the Google Play Store on the Duo.
    There are rules around a device shipping with GMS such as including all GMS apps and potentially others that may not be publicly known. I can't help but wonder if in working with Google on the Duo, Microsoft had to drop Cortana from the Microsoft Launcher if they wanted the Google Play Store. Since it doesn't make sense to have a separate build of Launcher for Duo, they make one version but still keep the Cortana app available to users.
  • You make no sense. Bixby says Hi...
  • The issue is that Cortana is not really any better of an Alternative than Bixby on Samsung devices, and Google Assistant is just better everywhere else. Google services just integrate better on Android devices, because they all share the same services backend. Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Map, Duo, Drive, Photos, Keep, Tasks, etc... those all just work well with each other. Microsoft services simply aren’t that convenient on Android, and trying to use that ecosystem to avoid Google makes far less sense on an Android device than using an iPhone while ignoring Apple services. Google will still get paid. On top of that, Microsoft has a weak content ecosystem, which affects scratching and pulling up information about things that Apple, Google, and even Amazon leverage their content stores for: Music, Apps, eBooks, Audiobooks, Movies and TV shows, Podcasts, etc. Cortana was doomed the second Windows 10 Mobile failed to catch fire, and Windows 10 users shut it off due to Google levels of data collection feelings in the user base.