The future of Cortana is all about helping you work better on Windows 10 and beyond

Invoke Speaker
Invoke Speaker (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft's own digital assistant Cortana is a very curious case in 2018. It's a feature (service?) that appears to be alive and kicking internally, but showing little to no sign of improvement externally. Cortana has become stagnant in the digital assistant market; it's still mostly US only, its dedicated speaker game is basically non-existent, and its integration with Windows 10 (the only platform where it has any leverage) kind of sucks.

At this point, there's nothing Microsoft can do to compete with Google or Amazon. Cortana has fallen too far behind to play catch up, and honestly, it doesn't look like Microsoft wants to compete in the digital assistant market anyway, at least not in the consumer space. If they did, we'd have seen some action from Microsoft by now fighting back, but we haven't. So, what's going on? If Cortana is alive and kicking internally, why isn't Cortana improving on the surface?

Instead of chasing Google Assistant and Apple Siri, Microsoft is repositioning Cortana as a "productivity assistant" to help you get stuff done.

I've been asking around, talking to several sources about Cortana for quite some time now, because it fascinates me at how bad things have turned for the assistant. Remember that when Cortana first launched, it was a shining example of what a digital assistant should be. It was better than anything else on the market at the time, but ever since Windows 10 launched, things have fallen behind and never recovered.

As it turns out, Microsoft is well-aware that Cortana has fallen behind, and it also knows full well that there's nothing it can do to bring Cortana back up into the light for consumers. So, instead of wasting resources in even trying, Microsoft is attempting to "reposition" (for lack of a better term) Cortana as more of a productivity assistant rather than a 'personal assistant' that most digital assistants pitch themselves as. What does this mean? Quite a few things, actually.

A refined experience

To begin, it means Microsoft is redesigning how users interact with Cortana on Windows 10. Up until now, the only entry point for Cortana has been via Windows Search, which most users have expressed extreme dislike towards. Turns out, most people use search for search, and don't want things like news, upcoming calendar events, and more in their search experience, and rightly so.

I've already written a bit about this in the past, Microsoft is planning to move Cortana's entry point into the Action Center / System Tray, and promote a more keyboard friendly experience that encourages the user to type rather than speak. Microsoft calls this new experience "conversational canvas", and is essentially just a chat window between the user and Cortana. Of course, you can still use your voice if you like, but most people prefer typing when at their PCs.

The conversational canvas is designed to be a continuous dialogue between the user and the system. Cortana will still be able to do common digital assistant tasks, including things like turning appliances on or off, ask it to define words, reminders, weather, and more, just like you already can today, except since it's a conversation view you have a thread. Because of this, you can scroll up and see what you and Cortana have said in the past, etc.

Microsoft's end goal is to integrate Cortana into Windows 10 seamlessly so that users don't even know they're using it.

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

What's more, since Cortana is moving into the Action Center, Cortana becomes the "manager" of all your notifications on Windows and other platforms. In the future, Cortana may even be able to organize notifications, and automatically set reminders depending on the contents of the notifications. Then you've got things like Focus Assist, which Cortana taps into. You'll notice that Cortana already pops up with things you missed once you turn Focus Assist off.

More integration

The same goes for Timeline. Cortana can hook into Timeline data across devices, and cherry pick what it thinks will be most relevant to the user and present it via "pick up where you left off." What's more, Things like Timeline and Focus Assist actually work in markets where Cortana doesn't, and that's the beauty of this new "rethinking" of Cortana. Instead of building new features under Cortana, said new features are built standalone and Cortana is simply integrated into them.

This means new features don't have to be dependent on Cortana, and can work in areas where the assistant doesn't. This is a much better solution as it means feature availability isn't held hostage by Cortana's lack of availability outside of the United States. Timeline is a standalone feature that Cortana can talk to, rather than being a Cortana feature that requires Cortana to function to be useful.

Regarding search, Cortana will still be part of Windows Search but you'll no longer find things like the latest news or weather in there. Instead, you'll find suggestions that will help you stay productive, such as your recent activities in Timeline, and direct access to specific search categories. This is an example of how Cortana is being integrated into areas of the OS without necessarily being all up in your face about it.

So, what's happening with things like Cortana Skills and the Harman Kardon Invoke? As far as I'm aware, nothing. Cortana Skills aren't going away, because it'll always be handy to be able to control your lights via your PC or a dedicated speaker. The Harman Kardon Invoke continues to be updated with new features and functions, suggesting Microsoft is not done in this area either. We'll likely see Cortana show up in more appliances like the GLAS thermostat over time, too.

Microsoft is the only company that can truly make your PC and smartphone work better together.

This repositioning of Cortana is very interesting. Microsoft is in a unique position here, as it's the only company that can do this with Cortana. Google and Amazon don't have a PC platform, making Microsoft is the only company that can truly make your PC and smartphone work better together. Google Assistant won't be able to help you on your PC, and it won't be able to send notifications and other things to your PC either. Cortana can.

While it doesn't fix all of Cortana's problems, it does mean Cortana won't be going away anytime soon. Instead, we should see Cortana become smarter, more integrated, and more seamless in Windows 10, and work for the user without the user necessarily even thinking about it. In fact, a lot of these changes are already available in Redstone 4, and I'd wager we'll be seeing more of these improvements show up over the next year or so.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • Heard the same marketing speak about Windows phone/mobile before the famous retrenchment. productivity has become a buzzword for MS to hide its consumer side failures. the so called new features are not game changers, they wont change to course of user behavior, only a few tech enthusiasts will end up using them.
  • Yup. Why would you create a product then attempt to hide said product from the world and convince them they aren't using it?
    Bye bye Cortana.
  • Yup.
    Followed up by Nadella saying, "I don't see the need for three digital assistants in the marketplace" and bam, Cortana is gone in a flash. I made a bet with Rubino a year ago that Cortana would be gone in 2019.
    He was using their existing business plan saying Cortana was here to stay. Tick, Tock.
  • Gone in a Flash? There's an Adobe joke in there somewhere.
  • I don't remember agreeing to that bet, or who you even are, but I'll take you up on it nonetheless. The idea that Microsoft won't continue A.I./Cortana investment, research, hardware partnerships, is, well, humorous. The way news moves these days, we may even hear something next week about, I dunno, machine learning/AI and mobile. Bummed out ex-Windows Phone fans here are too myopic and too emo to see what's happening right in front of them. They're still fixated on 2014. Sad.
  • OK, Dan. Suppose they are serious about Cortana, but why destroy functions that worked flawlessly before and replace them with half-baked or non-functioning stuff? Like one day in the winter I am walking toward bus stop, long press the button on my headphones and ask Cortana "what time it is" to check the schedule and she says the time, next day she does the search. One day I say "play ***" and it starts playing, next day "I can't play stuff on Groove, get iHeartRadio". This is so upsetting to me.
  • I think we can see it as a rebirth. Cortana worked well on Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone 8.1. But it clearly isn't a good experience on Windows 10. I think Microsoft wants Cortana to provide a truly useful and enjoyable experience on as many platforms and device types as possible and that means they will have to rethink how Cortana is on both PC, mobile, Xbox and that's going to break the Cortana experience on Windows 10 Mobile. I think that Windows 10 has improved tremendously in its design from Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1. Features may come slow and when they do it's buggy in performance, but it feels well thought out not just on the concept, but also the implementation. Performance issues are fixed rather fast with monthly cumulative updates. If that is how Microsoft is going to work on Windows 10, I'll gladly let them have the time to reposition Cortana. In Zac's article, I see a brighter future, one better than the when Cortana was originally announced on Windows Phone 8.1, which was probably the best personal assistant at that time.
  • On wp 8.1 it was great. After that joke windows 10 and mobile came along, they simply broke it.
  • Okay, what is it that I'm too myopic to see? Correct me where I'm getting it wrong. As I see it, Microsoft has essentially given up developing the frontend of Cortana--the aspects we intentionally interact with--because they screwed up (again), fell behind the competition (again). Instead, they are focusing on, almost exclusively, the backend aspects that have always worked behind-the-scenes. They're concentrating on the "connective" facilities of data movement that businesses care about--and that us average consumers don't care about as much--and HOPING still-developing frontend assistants like Alexa or Google will allow them to play nicely. As I see it, IF these partnerships continue, you eventually won't even KNOW the name "Cortana" and there will be no "Alexa, open Cortana". As I see it, Microsoft will have a nebulous backend supporting AI with no name that works with whatever frontend the platform you're using relies on....maybe. So, yea, maybe I'm "fixated on 2014". You can't fault me for finding the Cortana USER EXPERIENCE as it exists on the Windows phones and, to a lesser extent on PCs/tablets, to be MUCH more useful and enjoyable than on ANY other platform. I've recently been trying to get as close to that experience as possible on a test Android device. You can't get there from here. Of that, I'm certain. As a consumer, I don't really CARE about what's going on in the background. I care about the user experience I get using the devices I want/need to use. It's the FRONTend experience I have to enjoy first, before I even consider that backend. I have tried the Microsoft Launcher, Cortana, all the Microsoft apps (which appear to be shrinking in number). They are all patches ontop of a patchwork OS on a smartphone. So, please, if you can show me a way to make an Android device give me AS good a user experience, I'm open to being convinced. So far, I'm not seeing it.
  • Stop using Microsoft services. That is a start to making Android good. Part of Windows phones failure was how bad Microsoft's services were.
  • Dan this sounds like you know something.
    "The way news moves these days, we may even hear something next week about, I dunno, machine learning/AI and mobile."
    Are you being sly? :-) C'mon, do tell? Your secret is safe with me.
  • You don't think it's at all bizarre that Microsoft keeps crowing about their whole "A.I./Bots/IoT prowess yet can't apply any of it to Cortana? I don't care if Cortana stays or goes, I already moved on and put an Amazon Spot on my desk, but as a Microsoft shareholder, I'm more concerned about their future in ambient computing with the failure of Cortana.
  • I couldn't agree with you more. I am responsible for a 28,000 seat EA, we are fully migrated into O365 and I have Cortana turned on Enterprise wide. Basically I think Cortana will be the "friendly" name for their AI stuff. Since we turned all this on it has been pretty neat to see how this is taking shape. As a Windows fan since forever, I don't like that MS has screwed up some of things I really liked. However, some of the stuff they are doing now is fascinating. We are also into a whole bunch of their newer stuff as well. IoT, AI, Hololens, serveless computing to name a few. The way it ties together in the background is impressive. Cortana will lay on top of all this. I also expect it will be able to talk to all of the other assistants.
  • I think you already lost that bet. Cortana sadly died with groove and mobile a year or two back. If you can't use it properly with your phone or to play music, then what is it good for? Cortana never lived on my desktop. I don't even have mic. If there is something there, maybe Windows Central could showcase Cortana's so called enterprise focus as Microsoft sure isn't advertising it.
  • I'll say it again: it's time to let the phone stuff go. It's been 3 years now. Some of you are worse than ex-girlfriends. Quite literally the last opinion I want to hear from someone is the one from a "diehard" Windows Phone "fan".
  • It's not just one thing though is it Daniel... Zune, Kinnect, Windows Mobile all abandoned.
  • But to give up entirely on the consumer aspect? That is clearly an issue. Even if a team spent 2 weeks out of the year focusing a little on consumer or smart home functionality, that would make a difference. This is the same story Microsoft has sold on endless products and services. Forgive those of us who might align it with many of their failed attempts in many other spaces.
  • Moved the family to iPhones, and I use one for work... but, I am still using a Idol 4s for my personal use. Now, my opinion is... blah, blah, blah, blah, Ballmer sucks, blah, blah, blah, Nadella sucks, blah, blah, blah, they are quitters, blah, blah, blah, but will still pre-order anything they make for consumers. :)
  • Seriously? While the phones are arguably the most common frontend user interface with assistants and AI, this is NOT just about the phones. They're doing this to the PCs/tablets, too. It just has a relatively lesser impact because Microsoft developed the Cortana frontend for them later, so it's not nearly as mature. As I've said before, I use Cortana, as an assistant, all the time on ALL devices: phone, PC, tablet, Xbox. Cortana is ON, period. My wife and I LIKE the actual interaction with and result from Cortana. Now, if we understand correctly, Microsoft is essentially deprecating that and just focusing on the backend. Yes, yes, yes, the backend stuff is IMPORTANT, because that's really what gets the results. But it's the INTERACTION that makes us even care to exact the results. This is much bigger to some of us than just phones.
  • It is t it me to drop Microsoft services. They will bring you nothing but frustration going forward as they die one by one. If you like Cortana, you will love Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa and they will had actual hardware to choose from.
  • Maybe it's less about Windows Phone and more about your track record? This is the internet, there's receipts. 14 Jul 2015
    "This point is exactly what I mentioned on Friday. Developers still won't want to make apps for Windows Phone, but that is okay since they can go for millions of users on the desktop. Since the Universal Windows app tools allow a one app package, companies can just as easily publish their app to Windows Phone. After all, why not? It costs them nothing, and they can grab a few million more users." We have already seen what Continuum for phones brings when Microsoft's next flagships launch this fall. However, what about going further? Someone asked me about "Intel-powered phones" and if I thought they were coming. I can now answer you: yes , early next year. Microsoft does have an Intel plan in the works. Would that make a good use of the Surface brand once you have an x86 phone that can be a true computer?"
  • Wow, nice. I assume this was Rubino pontificating all of this nonsense? The sound of chirping crickets here is deafening.
  • I wonder if in a while you will have to change, again, the name of this site in Microsoft Central...
  • It’s not only about phones. You expect everyone to simply forget MS’s catastrophic failures and their pathetic behavior? :))) MS hopes that too, but ain’t gonna happen. They have lost our trust and that’s it! I have to be completely delusional to ever invest and trust anything this company does as long as the same “genius” is in charge
  • There is optimism and there is realism. In business you have to have a good balance of both. I irony is that if you just read these threads you'd think MSFT was doing terrible about their moves in recent years, yet correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't MSFT just pass up Alphabet? Google's parent company correct? The face behind the Android super giant? Yet many of you would've fired Nadella. MSFT is playing the long game and despite some of their miscalculations, I'd say for the most part they have done a pretty good job. You just don't throw money at something that isn't providing you with a viable return in investment. That's what was happening with Zune, all iterations of Windows Phone/Mobile, the MSFT Band, and the initial intent of Cortana. All those products were good. I still use my Alcatel IDOL 4S as my daily driver, I'm still rocking my MSFT band, and I own a Harmon Kardon Invoke. That's my personal choice and only impacts me. A few hundred dollars is nothing compared to a few million, which would be what many of you would waste simply to appease a personal position. That's dangerous business practice. I think MSFT has the right mindset with Cortana being internal and makes even more sense with the highly anticipated folding device on the horizon.
  • If you play the long game, it usually means you sacrifice the short game. It seems Microsoft is playing the short game. Hopefully losing the consumer market doesn't cause the enterprise to move away in the future.
  • Too bad, deal with it. Microsoft has killed off a few products that I loved to use and integrated well with my day to day life. Now I have to go back to the way things were in the late 2000's, where integration is hit and miss at best. Microsoft has to show evidence of what they claim they are going to do with this, not the other way around.
  • I almost never use/open the notification center. I dont like the email client or care about reminders on my computer. I just look them up on my phone. I like where the cortana is right now in the task bar. I made her into an icon. It works for me. I cant tell you how many times I want to search something and instead of starting a browser and searching, I just type down there. Its a dumb move if you ask me to move her into the notification center.
  • As expected, they try to hide another monumental failure, like the world is blind and does not see the reality. Pathetic! As said before, Cortana is the next to be “retrenched” along with movies & tv and after that Bing
  • If I wanted Cortana to do anything it would to be to play my music on OneDrive but that isn't going to happen so I'd rather they have Spotify use my OneDrive music folder so I can talk to Spotify through my Harmon Kardon Invoke with Cortana. I do plan on getting the GLAS thermostat.
  • I don't need an assistant for an assistant... Cortana YOUR FIRED!!
  • How does that with the Xbox and Minecraft work?
  • I use Cortana every day still on my Lumia ICON. To my knowledge she is still the only assistant that natively (SP) offers to read incoming texts and asks me if I want to reply to the text. I also use on occasion the ability for Cortana to remind me about something when I get to a certain location. "Hey Cortana, remind me when I am at Publix to get a loaf of bread."
    So much potential. So much waste. MS could have truly lead that market. Think of the in home platforms between, PCs, XBOXs and mobile phones (Which is another sad story itself. *sigh*) They were already in peoples homes. No need to go out and buy anything extra.
    I will keep using Cortana until she no longer answers me and then...well..i don't know.
  • Cortana's location based reminders are MAGIC.
  • I agree, with constant supporting topics of migrating to both Android phone and iphone platforms (which I did due to a damage windows phone), I was hoping that we would be able to get Cortana on those two platforms to give me the same feature of both reading incoming texts and the capability of replying to them. With all the hoopla about how great Cortana works on them, I am still waiting for this capability with every app update.
  • Apple and Google will never open their software to allow Microsoft to do that. The only way that will happen is if Microsoft releases their own Android phone.
  • Hey, THAT may be the way we finally get to see the Surface Phone!
  • I truly wish Microsoft would have locked Google out of the OS the way Google does to Microsoft. Oh but, monopoly and big, evil Microsoft.
  • I haven't tried, but I think the latest or beta version of the Microsoft launcher is supposed be able to read incoming texts. A feature I sorely miss after getting the Pixel 2 in January. Maybe I should get off my butt and try it before they discontinue the effort on Android as well.
  • "she is still the only assistant that natively (SP) offers to read incoming texts and asks me if I want to reply" iPhone has had that for years. Very handy when driving.
  • So you can make it so that when a new text comes in Siri says "You have a new message from Jane Doe. Would you like to read it or ignore it?" or something like that? If so, please send me instructions/link on how to do it because for years I have not been able to figure it out.
    I don't want to ask her "Do I have any messages?" and then have her tell me how many I have and then proceed to read them all to me.
  • I guess I'm confused about how having to ask Siri to read a message is somehow slower/more difficult than Cortana first asking if you want to read it or ignore it (which is a ridiculous interruption and REQUIRES an answer or she will harass you about it), having to reply to that, and THEN getting the message. Yeah, it's faster on iOS. And furthermore, you can just ask Siri "What's up" and you'll get a synopsis of current notifications, something Cortana can't do.
  • Hmm. I said Siri "What's up" on my ipad and she told me she was getting ready for a spelling be and practicing the word prevalence. I tried again and she started telling me about the NBA finals.
    My wife tried it on her iphone and it resulted in similarly underwhelming results.
  • That's EXACTLY what I want. I like that Cortana announces I've just received a text message, and who it's from, and then asks me what I want to do with it. That's EXACTLY how an assistant should work, PERIOD. And then I should have the option, completely hands-free, to continue that conversation as needed. That is the ONLY way that makes sense. And this is one of the aspects that is grossly missing everywhere. Heck, Cortana can't even do that on Android.
  • Also, Cortana can speak to Alexa, which gives it an advantage over Google Assistant.
  • But only if you speak with an American accent.
  • Lol
  • Lol Ms being Ms. Enterprise turns Cortana off and they are pulled away from the consumer market. This makes Ms "unique", alright. Consumers don't care about PC's so Ms being the only company who can integrate pc and phone is irrelevant.
  • This sounds like an awful idea. Means Cortana will likely tank. It's just going the same direction phone did. I only recently finally shut off the 950 XL, but given that and Groove, I don't have hope here anymore. It'd be one thing if they focused on enterprise/productivity while still making at least some effort with consumers and/or smart home.
  • I'm one of those holdouts who still uses their Lumia, so Cortana is my main assistant. It handles my diary, notifications and reminders, and the fact that it syncs seamlessly between my phone, tablet and desktop is invaluable. Being able to set reminders that activate when I get to a certain location is magic. Beyond this, Cortana is just a convenient way of tracking my Amazon deliveries. The Invoke isn't available in my market, and in order to get any of the advanced features I have to change my region to the US, which is not always very useful. Right now, I'm less worried about having new features, and more interested in simply getting features that American users have been using for years. How about integrating Cortana with our transport system, or at the very least getting getting it to integrate properly with our smart home technology.
  • The future of Cortana is all about shutting the ***k up, stopping meddling, and just do whatever I tell it to do, when I tell it to do it, while developing a minimum of intelligence, which it currently sorely lacks.
  • It doesn't meddle.
  • These retreat pauses almost never work in tech. Enterprise and consumer are merged on my laptop. Cortana is heading to a niche of a niche which equals irrelevance...
  • How do they make Cortana relevant again, simple - CHANGE THE GAME. Make her the first proactive assistant that can recognize individual users (like your xbox with Kinect already can). I would love to walk in a room and have Cortana automatically adjust the temperature to my preferences, set lights how I like them, and let me know if there are any urgent emails in my box, text messages I have missed, calls, calendar appointments, etc. I want Cortana to say hi to me when I walk in a room and to ask me if she can be of any help. I want her to be able to tell when I am having a conversation with someone else - so she knows not to butt in.
  • I'm right there with you. But, of course, they killed the Kinect...first, by killing the USEFUL aspects by giving us this horrid Xbox dashboard, second by making it virtually impossible to add one--IF you can find one--to any newer Xbox units. No, they don't really give a darn about those of us who actually saw the value.
  • I gotta say, it's painfully obvious you don't have any smart devices, so it's rather a moot point about whether you think Cortana should get into that space. An entire raft of smart home devices already use geofencing, and have for years. My Nest and Hue have "home" and "away" settings, time of day settings, and more. I also get pro-active visual notifications from Alexa about package deliveries (form Amazon and others).
  • OR, we PREFER the Cortana experience and that's precisely WHY we want Cortana to fully expand. I think it is just absolutely IDIOTIC to have to purchase umpteen pieces of HARDWARE just to get the experience. We already have Cortana on every phone, every PC, and our Xbox. It's beyond stupid to buy another thing just to interface. If I have smart appliances in the home, Cortana should be all that's necessary. That's what SHOULD happen.
  • Need to be easier to disable cortana, I know MS do not like it when we do, but they should put another way to do so instead of having to muck around with the registry.
  • "The Harman Kardon Invoke continues to be updated with new features, however." Oh really? How about multi-room support. This is like the first iPhones not supporting Copy+Paste. Its such a standard feature that I'm still amazed they haven't done it.
  • The Harman Kardon Invoke isn't even available in the UK so new features are irrelevant to me. That's EXACTLY why I have a Google Home Mini, it's fully supported in the UK and regularly gets new features, oh and it has multi-room support.
  • So, what you're telling me is that, once again, Microsoft has given me a fantastic tool and is now making it completely useless to me. My PRIMARY interface with Cortana IS by VOICE. I have Cortana turned ON, all the time, on my phone, my Surface Pro, my PC and our Xbox (which is why we are sticking with the original Xbox One+Kinect). What you're saying is that there will be no further development of Cortana as a useful hands-free interface on ANY platform, least of all any smartphone platform. What you're saying is that if I want to continue to have the full hands-free and useful experience with Cortana I'll have to stick with my Lumia until it won't work anymore and I can't find a replacement...because I'll never see that great a user experience anywhere.
  • The article strictly states that voice commands aren't going anywhere... It actually speaks of them getting better.
  • You actually believe that, huh? Mark my words, once the Alexa/Cortana alliance solidifies, and Cortana diminishes into just supporting background work, they will get rid of the entire Cortana frontend. You just watch. They'll just say "we've made things more efficient for you, not having you say 'Alexa, ask Cortana blah blah'. Just talk to Alexa and Cortana will take care of the background tasks for you'. Just you wait. And this angers me beyond belief.
  • Or, how about just doing all of this instead? I don't understand why giving up on consumers, as an approach to development, helps anyone. Stop being so divisive.
  • In Start Menu, we have algorithms to show recently used apps, most used apps, recently opened files. We can add recently used/most used Sets to it. If Microsoft can figure out what most people use Start Menu for, and make these suggestions for recently/most used/opened apps/files/sets under Cortana, it can do the same for all other Windows 10 features such as Task View, notifications center (when Action Center breaks off into a Cortana-focused notifications center, and a settings-focused Control Center), Control Center, Search, Virtual Desktops. Imagine jumping to your other virtual desktops and Cortana asks if you'd like to open apps and files that it thinks you always do on that desktop, or upon starting your computer it asks if you'd like to continue a set on virtual desktop #3. When you search multiple times for a product, news topic or address on Edge, Cortana jumps in to ask if you'd like to be alerted of updates on the product or news topic, or ask if you're looking to find directions to the address. Cortana can exist in many places in Windows 10 and I think we can all look forward to see what Microsoft will do for Cortana 2.0.
  • Except I don't care about that. That is NOT how I use my computer, that is NOT how I work. I don't use virtual desktops. I don't use the Notification/Action/WhateverYouCallItThisWeek. Not on my Surface, not on my PC, not on my phone. I use START. I use the live tiles. I use VOICE.
  • Street walking in USA.
  • I'm tired of this BS faux "reasoning" that there's "Nothing they can do to catch up". Microsoft is the biggest developer ON EARTH. They control the most popular desktop OS ON EARTH. They absolutely CAN fix this, and it's ridiculous to claim they can't. Microsoft doesn't lack the ability, it lacks the WILL, because Satya Nadella is a short sighted imbecile who cannot see that business and consumer spaces are not clearly demarcated, but bleed into each other at countless junctures--all of which are INCREASING, not decreasing. Microsoft ignores the consumer space at its own peril.
  • "They control the most popular desktop OS ON EARTH." The problem is, that is not nearly as impressive now as it was 10 years ago. Back then, Windows was the most popular OS ON EARTH. Period. It ran on around 93% of all consumer computing devices sold. The rest was Macs and Linux. Today, Windows accounts for about 15% of all personal computing devices sold. 85% of devices sold today are phones and tablets running Android and iOS. Period. That is the reality. Windows has gone from King Of The Hill for consumers, to distant 3rd place. Is it any wonder then that Microsoft is backing (running?) away from consumers? "Microsoft ignores the consumer space at its own peril." Possibly. But the reality is, the consumer space is already ignoring Microsoft. MS has little choice but to double down on business/enterprise, because that is where they still have a very dominant position. If MS loses business/enterprise, then they are in serious trouble.
  • Can fix and will fix it are not the same thing, naturally. Not only that but, they focus on the USA and not so much anywhere else, at least based upon what others have experienced.
  • Well, we hope to see the Pandora update integration you promise.
  • I think part of the problem is Microsoft can't figure out how to monetize Cortana so it doesn't get much push. Amazon makes money off Alexea through increased product sales and sales of Prime memberships. Google makes money off Assistant by driving more data into their advertising business. Apple used Siri to help push iPhone sales (though they have let Siri fall behind the competition.) I am not sure how MS plans to make money off Cortana unless it is through licensing, but even that won't bring in much if the only product it is on besides and Invoke or a $350 Glas thermostat. Yes she is on PCs but I don't see that alone driving additional PC sales. As far as not pursuing more smart speakers, and rather pushing Cortana into appliances or thermostats, that is silly. Consumers are being brought into Amazon and Google's ecosystem every day from inexpensive devices. It was brilliant for Amazon to release a $40 Echo Dot and Google to release the $40 Mini. There are no real smarts in the device itself, just a front-end to Amazon or Google's backend. Once they have the cheap device in the consumer's home they can continue to add capabilities and don't need the users to upgrade their devices like we do phones. This is how Amazon has dominated the market and Google gaining in second place. If people want a smart thermostat or a smart fridge, they are going to want it with Alexa or Assistant in them because they have already bought into the ecosystem with cheap devices. We have all three in our house, Alexa, Google Assistant, and an Invoke, but Alexa get's used the most because of Prime Music. I read recently that Brad Smith from MS said that they missed the search trend and mobile because Bill Gates and Steve Balmer were distracted by the antitrust lawsuits. Boy if you depend on your CEO to figure out the coming technology trends, it is no wonder they have missed the boat on so many things. At least Satya saw the coming of the cloud. Still where are the other dozens of technology strategists that a company like MS should have and should be figuring out the next big thing. Of course, even if MS does have a great idea, they seem to struggle to bring that great idea to market.
  • It's impossible to overstate just how bad MS has become in the consumer markets. Not a clue.
  • Honestly the whole “continue from another device” and “we’ve found a better deal for you” notifications are annoying. MS has turned Cortana into a back seat driver. Or worse a nagging wife. I guess it was inevitable though. MS is focused on the Enterprise and nothing else. They’re IBM. Unfortunately there’s no where to go. Macs are underwhelming, Chromebooks are underpowered. If there were another option I would leave MS behind and never look back. They’re a bunch of quitters that’s for sure. But until there’s a better option where do we go? I will probably end up turning Cortana off completely and using Alexa on PC when she arrives. Sad.
  • Chromebooks will be where I'm headed personally.
  • Okay, so researching it I think Pixelbooks are about the only Chromebook I think I could stomach, at least now that you can run Linux emulation, which gives the ability to run Android Studio on it without dual booting. From their advertising it says its a "high performance" (i5 or i7) machine with Google Assistant built right in. Backlit keys. 360 hinge. Touch screen. Active Pen ready. Full true integration with a Google Pixel phone. Lightweight. USB-C. $999 for Core i5/8GB/128GB But has anyone on this site ever used one?
  • Interesting article Zac. Not sure if Cortana's development really matters at this point, strictly speaking from a consumer point. Microsoft is enterprise focused and is following the IBM model. I know Daniel may disagree, but this is where they are headed. Nadella has made all the moves to position the company to service Cloud, AI, SaaS, etc and edge computing. Shareholders like what Nadella is doing, even though the consumer fan does not. MS does not care about such a small segment of the market. Personally, I feel that MS, Apple, Google and Amazon have failed to be the
    one stop shop for any consumer. I think consumers are much better served by using a modular approach to the technology that serves them and pick an choose their favorite service or product, this way you get the best of what serves them better. Now, they may not integrate well but at least you wont be left holding the bag if a company decides to abandon ship on a certain service or product. Honestly it doesnt matter what MS does with Cortana. What does matter is that whatever they do offer, do it well and stick to what works and makes you profitable. Leave the rest to someone who wants to deliver in that space.
  • This is the only comment that matters in this thread. Use the best services out there and maybe all should get out a little bit more :)
  • Well said.. This is reality.
  • In my opinion giving up on the consumer space is craziness. Today more and more people bring their own devices to work, the personal and professional worlds are merging. If everyone uses Gmail, Google Assistant and Google Sheet at home it's only a matter of time until the same happens on the workplace. Cortana was sexy and ahead of the competition, it had the potential to bring more people to the Microsoft ecosystem but again they gave up. They forgot that there are other countries out there than the US and other languages than American English. They didn't put enough resources. They screwed up. And now it's supposed to be all part of a master plan?
  • MS is too dumb to realize the consumer business merging...that imbecile is obsessed with other things, like layoffs, cutting costs and barking crap on stage in hope someone will believe him
  • Lol. Exactly.
  • Cortana have no future on my computer. I work better after throw out that stupid cow from my computer.
  • This sounds a lot like when BlackBerry "repositioned" their devices for health care. I loved Cortana on WP10 (and loved WP) but at this point I don't trust their commitment to anything consumer - facing. Mobile, tablets, Kinect, Cortana, Hololens...
  • "little to no sign of improvement externally."
    - A Windows site that doesn't keep track of Windows news, WOW. Cortana was actually the ONLY assistant to increase its accuracy year-over-year in independent testing: stonetemple(dot)com/digital-personal-assistants-study/ It was also 2nd only to Google Assistant in correctly answered questions. Good God, guys do some research before writing. Also, let's just happy it's Amazon taking the heat for sending people's private conversations to contacts instead of Cortana doing that. Being first doesn't make you the best.
  • This is what I read: Blah blah blah... Microsoft is giving up on yet another consumer product... blah blah blah
  • Reality
  • I like this personally and it's probably their only move at this point.
  • "It was better than anything else on the market at the time in the US" There you go, fixed that sentence for you.
  • How's that possible when Satya wants your to say, "Hey Alexa, ask Cortana". If I have to say all of that, I'll just ask Alexa directly as opposed to going through a third party to ask Cortana something.
  • This myopic die hard Windows Phone fan may be worse than ex girl fiends, but Microsoft's missed and lost opportunities are very heartbreaking. And what's worse, some of the best technology and best products are now gone. Sure, sales might not have been so great for Windows Phone, but that could have eventually been improved.
    I hope people will continue to vocally support the concept of some sort of a Windows OS for phones. Not just a phone like device or phablet, but a phone. When Cortana fades into non-existence, the phone will still be here.
  • well, I guess the acer chromebook spin 13 will be my next tech purchase.
  • Am I the only one who saw the Red Ring of Death in the photo? LOL
  • Seems like Cortana follows Windows Phone's path to fail.
  • Microsoft has no one to blame but themselves but hey we're making lots of money. That's what counts, right?
  • folks one device I want Microsoft to make is a blue tooth headset with a Cortana button on it
    that enable s anyone to speck to a Windows 10 Desktop, Laptop, Ultra book or Tablet
    and tell it to do things for them. The promos of speech recognition has to go forward and
    made easier to use. this new device would be great to help disabled folks especially if it's tied to
    narrator software so a blind person hears a Computer response to his vocal Commands
  • Maybe I'm in minority, but I was actually upset when they removed the Cortana experience (news, schedule, flights, packages,etc.) from "search".
  • Useless attempt. Besides fanboys, no one is ever gonna use this joke assistant on his smartphone, where it is its place, not on a desktop. Enterprise? Lol, companies disable all together this thing along with the store app.
  • Really, then maybe you need to speak to the company I work for as the Store and Cortana are fully accessible on my work laptop!!!!
  • As I see it, digital assistants are used mainly on mobile devices and smart speakers, 2 fields MS has no presence in. Most people will use (rightfully) the default integrated assistant on their device. This is the sad reality, we should accept it and move on.
  • Cortina simply needs to work first on Android. Currently it doesn't even hook into apps. Pretty bad.
  • After we've been together all these years, she still refuses to tell me how big her fun bags are!
  • We all can thank Nadella for this and many other things that he killed or is actively killing.