Fall from grace? Microsoft, in an admission, that it no longer sees Cortana as a competitor to Alexa or Google Assistant, is now transitioning the service into an app that the company hopes will be everywhere.
Cortana has fallen behind these two leaders over the past year, and the Seattle based company is taking this into account as it charts a new direction for her.
It even divorced Cortana from Windows Search in the newer preview builds of the Windows 10 operating system that were released for Insiders.
Speaking to journalists at a recent media event, Nadella revealed that he concluded that the AI helper should be relegated to a skill on competing platforms. He highlighted the smart speaker market and hinted at a more background role for Cortana, particularly in the Microsoft 365 context.
“Cortana needs to be that skill for anybody who’s a Microsoft 365 subscriber. You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just like how you use our apps on Android and iOS so that’s at least how we want to think about where it’ll go.”
Of course, this refers to the consumer subscription push that we heard about toward the end of last year, where Microsoft was said to be readying a flavor of its Microsoft 365 service for end uses.
To that end, Cortana is being turned into an Alexa skill or app and made available on third-party platforms. Nadella is also eying a tie-up with Google Assistant, though apparently there are no formal talks between both companies.
Alexa, obviously, has the lead in the voice assistant space, already boasting more than 30,000 skills.
This move, nevertheless, offers these users choice, in particular the ones that already rely on Cortana in their digital lives. Owners of Alexa enable devices will soon be able to asks Cortana to read their email or interact with Office content.
Still, this does mean that instead of a front and center approach, Cortana has been culled as a standalone appliance and joins Band and Phone as great Microsoft products that never quite found their footing in the consumer space.
Then again, the writing was on the wall.
And had been for some time.