What you need to know
- Microsoft is killing support for Cortana on Windows 10 and Windows 11 later this year.
- The company is touting its recent AI efforts as suitable replacements for the Cortana experience.
- The news comes just a week after Microsoft unveiled the Windows Copilot, a new AI assistant powered by ChatGPT technology.
Microsoft has today announced that it's pulling support for the Cortana app on Windows 10 and Windows 11 later this year. The news comes just a week after Microsoft unveiled the Windows Copilot, a smarter AI assistant that's powered by ChatGPT technology and is capable of handling more complex queries.
Here's what Microsoft says in its support documentation about Cortana being retired:
"We are making some changes to Windows that will impact users of the Cortana app. Starting in late 2023, we will no longer support Cortana in Windows as a standalone app ... This change only impacts Cortana in Windows, and your productivity assistant, Cortana, will continue to be available in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display, and Microsoft Teams rooms.
We know that this change may affect some of the ways you work in Windows, so we want to help you transition smoothly to the new options. Instead of clicking the Cortana icon and launching the app to begin using voice, now you can use voice and satisfy your productivity needs through different tools."
Microsoft continues to list several of its recent AI products and services, including Bing Chat AI and the Windows Copilot, which is expected to launch this fall around the same time Cortana is retired, as suitable replacements for the Cortana app. The new Windows Copilot should be able to do most of what the Cortana app can do, plus more.
As Microsoft mentions, Cortana as a productivity assistant in Microsoft 365 apps isn't going away, and will continue to function like normal. It's just the Cortana assistant in Windows that's being retired this fall.
Thanks for the tip, @Perbylund
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I feel like they are missing a marketing opportunity. Why not incorporate AI CO-Pilot WITH Cortana? As someone who used her back in the days before they lobotomized her I would love for them to give her back to us fully functioning with the added abilities of AI.Reply
I agree. Why not keep the name Cortana, the only good name they've come up with. Instead, they use names like Xbox One Series X. What???Cmndr_Bytes said:I feel like they are missing a marketing opportunity. Why not incorporate AI CO-Pilot WITH Cortana? As someone who used her back in the days before they lobotomized her I would love for them to give her back to us fully functioning with the added abilities of AI.
I'm shocked. #NotReply
Cortana. What's that? Didn't it die with Windows mobile in 2017?Reply
I appreciate that MS is trying to keep things simple by not having two competing systems (something they often don't do, think Teams and Skype, which are still fighting with each other today), and clearly the ChatGPT-based system is better. However, I think this misses a significant marketing opportunity to fold the better AI into Cortana. The only people who care about the name Cortana are her fans, so even if perception is that Cortana lost, there's no real downside to just promoting it as the ChatGPT technology to the rest of the world. That furthers loyalty among the few fans.Reply
A personified brand will almost always inspire greater loyalty than a technical term (most people tend to feel more attached to friends than things and why marketers like to create brand mascots -- tough to do, but very powerful once the market associates the mascot with the product). And obviously while the AI tech of today is much better than a few years ago, and similarly, the AI tech a few years from now will obsolete what we use today, they shouldn't rebrand it and start over every time the underlying tech improves. Therefore, MS should build out a powerful Cortana around ChatGPT 4.0 now, and going forward just let Cortana be the name, face, and voice for whatever the current AI query and support system is. This would be the simplest and most effective way to generate brand preference for MS AI.
This would just be smart marketing. Another missed opportunity for MS.
I am really looking forward to the Copilot. But I agree with you about the name. Something with Cortana would be much better.Reply
As I discussed on the podcast, whether or not Microsoft should anthropomorphize its AI with a name/personality is debated internally. On the one hand, Microsoft knows 'Cortana' would generate more interest and interaction; on the other, they don't want people developing "relationships" with AI, especially as it advances.Reply
Personally, I'm fine with Copilot. Cortana was fun, but there is something weird about giving AI a name and personality. It's literally done to make humans feel better because we're, at the end of the day, dumb animals driven by basic instincts and social interactions.
Why would Microsoft take the hottest thing in tech and merge it with branding for an AI assistant no one uses?Cmndr_Bytes said:I feel like they are missing a marketing opportunity. Why not incorporate AI CO-Pilot WITH Cortana? As someone who used her back in the days before they lobotomized her I would love for them to give her back to us fully functioning with the added abilities of AI.
Sean Endicott said:Why would Microsoft take the hottest thing in tech and merge it with branding for an AI assistant no one uses?
Sean, that's a fair question and I think Daniel's post above suggests that even w/in MS there is debate on this. The answer and case I would make if I were at MS is a generic marketing answer: IF (no guarantee this can happen) you can build a successful AI experience and incorporate it into a named entity, like Cortana, you will have superior brand loyalty, compared with just using a tech name. Everything that follows assumes they do that successfully.
That's not an insignificant benefit. Brand loyalty at scale can be wroth billions of dollars on a company balance sheet. It's quite literally (from an accounting perspective) an asset.
Further, with strong brand loyalty for a company that does lots of different things, they can leverage that loyalty to support other product and service offerings, which lowers the cost of brining future projects to market.
Two more answers:
1. MS is particularly weak at consumer marketing. A brand mascot would leapfrog the rest of the market for market preference, just as ChatGPT helped them leapfrog their competitors at AI. This would be a huge win for all their direct-to-consumer product and service marketing efforts.
2. MS is also particularly weak among kids. Most of MS fans, like me, are older were using them before Google had a consumer presence. Brand mascots tend to appeal especially to younger users.
For all of these reasons, I conclude that the positives significantly outweigh the negatives.
Maybe the same reason they attached it to Bing? Create traffic, interest, a level of marketing and brand recognition? There were people who used it, but MS kept slowly making it less and less useful until it was useless. I have always felt Cortana was well ahead of Alexa and Siri when she first came out. Just another thing MS gave up on.Sean Endicott said:Why would Microsoft take the hottest thing in tech and merge it with branding for an AI assistant no one uses?