When digital assistants are mentioned, it tends to be Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa that come to mind; it is only for real Microsoft diehards that Cortana features.
So it is little wonder that Microsoft has seen sense and decided to kill off some implementations of its own digital assistant. Cortana will still be found in Windows 10, but mobile users will find that it is no longer available for either iOS or Android.
Microsoft famously lost out on the mobile market when consumers largely rejected its Windows phones and embraced Apple and Google's offerings instead. This is a shame, as smartphones running Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile were actually quite good -- they just lacked apps and third-party developer support. And so, Microsoft abandoned its mobile plans, ultimately embracing the Linux-based Android for the Surface Duo.
Following smartphones, the next big thing was voice assistants, and sadly, Microsoft lost there too, getting beat out by Amazon and Google. This is also unfortunate, as Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, was pretty great. Once again, however, consumers rejected it. And so, like Windows 10 Mobile, Cortana has been largely canceled, as the company slowly phases it/her out.
Windows 10 has a number of things that users find annoying about it, not least that it forces you to use other Microsoft products. Type a web query into the Windows search box, or ask Cortana something, and the results you receive will come from Bing.
Microsoft has recently replaced its old Edge browser with a Chromium version, and while this is a big improvement, the software giant has forced it onto users and made it hard (but thankfully not impossible) to remove.
With the release of Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Microsoft not only introduced a range of new features and options, but also took some away. One thing that has changed with Windows 10 version 2004 is that Cortana is now a standalone app rather than an integral part of the operating system.
Not that you would necessarily notice, that is. Although the digital assistant is now separate from Windows itself, it still automatically runs at startup – it is possible, however, to disable Cortana and stop it from running in this way, or remove it completely.
Cortana hasn’t been the essential addition to Windows 10 that Microsoft was hoping for. While the digital service has its fans, for many it’s simply a button on the taskbar that they ignore.
Microsoft has been working to change that by creating a new Cortana experience with a chat-based UI. While the digital assistant was originally baked into Windows 10, it’s now available as an app you can download from the Microsoft Store, meaning it can be updated more frequently.
Microsoft is planning a major re-focus for Cortana; one that will mean the digital assistant becomes far less useful for most people. When Windows 10 version 2004 (or Windows 10 20H1) arrives, users will lose many of Cortana's consumer and third-party skills as Microsoft gives the assistant more of a business focus.
In dropping feature, Microsoft says that Cortana will be "focused on your productivity with enhanced security and privacy". Other significant change is the impending removal of Cortana from the Android Launcher app and a closer relationship with Microsoft 365.
Microsoft has quietly confirmed the rumors that it is planning to discontinue its Cortana digital assistant for some users. Starting next year, the company will no longer support Cortana on either iOS or Android in certain markets.
While Microsoft is yet to confirm which countries will be affected, the UK, Canada and Australia are known to be on the list. The change means that there will be no Cortana mobile app, and integration will be removed from the Microsoft Launcher.
The Windows Insider program is currently looking for a new leader, but new Windows 10 builds from the 20H1 branch, due out next May, are continuing to roll out on a weekly basis.
Build 18999 makes the ability to move and resize Cortana’s window available to all Insiders, and calling is now available in the Your Phone app.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 Build 18980 with more Cortana and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) improvements
Recent Windows 10 Insider builds from the 20H1 branch (set for release next spring) have introduced quite a few welcome new features, and today’s new flight, Build 18980, is no different.
The previous release, Build 18975, came with Cortana and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) improvements, and so does this one.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 Build 18975 with Cortana and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) improvements
Work continues apace on the next major Windows 10 update due out next spring. Recent preview releases have all introduced big improvements, and today's new flight, Build 18975, is no different.
This release for Fast ring Insiders introduces the ability to move the Cortana window to anywhere on screen, and also makes improvements to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).
Following the release of KB4512941 for Windows 10 version 1903, users have noticed a huge leap in CPU usage by Cortana.
After installing the cumulative update, the Cortana process SearchUI.exe is making much higher use of the CPU for many people. The problem can arise on systems where Bing Search has been disabled, and a series of workarounds have been suggested while Microsoft works on addressing the problem.
There have been lots of exposés over the last few weeks about the fact that numerous companies -- including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google -- have been listening to recordings of interactions between customers and digital assistants. The latest revelation is that Microsoft contractors have been listening to Xbox users.
A new report says that contractors working for Microsoft listened to audio clips recorded when Xbox users interacted with Kinect and Cortana on their consoles.
The idea that conversations you have with or via your computer are confidential has been completely dispelled over the last couple of weeks. We've learned that not only were Google workers listening to recordings of people using Google Assistant, Apple workers were listening in on Siri commands, and Amazon workers could hear what you're saying to Alexa.
If you thought Microsoft would not engage in such activity, think again. A new report reveals evidence that contractors working for Microsoft are listening to Skype calls made via the translation feature.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 Build 18945 -- on purpose! -- with improvements to Cortana, Windows Subsystem for Linux and File Explorer
Earlier in the week, Microsoft rolled out a new Windows 10 build on the 20H1 branch. Build 18947 arrived with a new retro Start menu without Live tiles, and a GIF search feature. There was just one problem -- it was released by accident.
Today the software giant rolls out Build 18945, and this one is intended for installation. It comes with a new Cortana experience, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Improvements, and an updated File Explorer.
Microsoft has seemingly admitted defeat in the digital assistant wars, with CEO Satya Nadella saying he does not want to compete with Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant.
Rather than planning a Cortana-powered smart speaker or other device, Nadella has demoted Cortana, signaling that Microsoft wants to focus on bringing it to other platforms as a "skill". He believes users should be able to use Alexa or Google Assistant to call on the capabilities of Cortana through close integration.