Bottom line: Microsoft on Friday announced that as part of its next Windows 10 update due out this spring, virtual assistant Cortana will be repurposed as more of a productivity assistant than a personal helper.
Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president of Cortana, said the new Cortana experience will feature a chat-based UI that’ll help users better manage their schedule and tasks. For example, you’ll be able to ask about the next entry on your calendar, get a reminder about the next weekly report and add items to your task list.
“And Cortana will continue to help you get answers from Bing, set alarms and timers, open apps, adjust settings, or give you a joke you can share with colleagues, friends or family,” Shuman added.
Arguably more important, however, is the functionality that Cortana is losing.
Shuman said some consumer skills like connected home, music and other third-party skills will no longer be available. Microsoft is also ending support for Cortana in older versions of Windows that have eclipsed their end-of-service dates and will be turning off Cortana services in the Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April.
What’s more, Shuman notes that they are tightening access to Cortana. With the update, you’ll need to be securely logged in with your work or school account or your Microsoft account to use the digital assistant.
Microsoft put a positive spin on the changes, saying how it was excited about how the update will help users stay on top of things, save time and do their best work. But with far less functionality than before, it's hard not to see this as anything short of Microsoft throwing in the towel.
Masthead credit: Cortana by rafapress