Cortana will soon be able to spot other voices, a feature that Alexa and Google Assistant have since 2017. Cortana does not quite give up, but it is slowly turning Cortana into something other than a digital universal assistant.
Who even uses Cortana?
Amazon has the echo, Google has the Google Home and Apple the HomePod. But did you know that Microsoft has its own Cortana speaker? The Harman Kardon Invoke has Cortana. It has not prevailed. In fact, it's so unpopular that it's not in the market share analysis of smart speakers In the fourth quarter of 2017, Harman Kardon sold 30,000 Invokes and Amazon 9.7 million echo devices. Yikes.
So, who uses Cortana? Each Windows 10 PC comes with a large Cortana box next to the Start button. According to Microsoft, more than 150 million people have used Cortana, but it is unclear whether they are actually using Cortana as their language assistant or using only the Cortana box to enter Windows 10 searches.
Really – in a world full of open-plan offices where people have keyboards, how many people will talk to their PCs, even if Cortana works well? A voice assistant is much less useful on a Windows PC than on a smart speaker or smartphone.
Microsoft was not serious about promoting Cortana in recent years. Cortana is still only available in 13 countries, while Amazon says Alexa is supported in many other countries. At the end of 2017, there were only 230 Cortana skills compared to 25,000 Alexa skills. Alexa now has over 50,000 skills and Cortana stays in the dust.
Alexa Even runs on Windows 10
Amazon Alexa beats Cortana on Windows even. Many PC makers have excitedly announced the Alexa integration on their new PCs, and now there is an official Alexa app that can be installed by any Windows 10 user to use the Amazon language assistant instead of Microsoft's.
You can even integrate Alexa with Cortana and say "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" to access Alexa from your Windows 10 PC.
And why do not you prefer Alexa – or even Google Assistant? Competing wizards can do much more than Cortana. Sure, Cortana has some abilities that allow you to control your smarthome, but not nearly as many as Alexa and Google, even if you want a language wizard on your Windows 10 PC Cortana not required.
Cortana becomes a productivity tool
So. What exactly is Microsoft's plan for Cortana? Let's read some tea leaves.
Cortana has been part of Microsoft's Office Department since October 11, 2018. It was previously part of the AI and research department. Brad Sams from Petri reports that "Microsoft is significantly changing the way Cortana thinks and uses them." He believes that this is a signal that Microsoft will increasingly use Cortana as a productivity tool in its own software rather than building it up as a competitor to Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
Similarly, Zac Bowden of Windows Central argues that Microsoft would like to reposition Cortana as "a productivity assistant rather than a personal assistant." "Microsoft is even experimenting with the move from Cortana to the Action Center, which offers a keyboard interface that lets you chat with Cortana.
Microsoft has launched a new Cortana skills kit for companies that allows companies to build custom capabilities that Cortana has with them various HR, IT, help desk, and IT services and distribution systems.
Features such as timeline, sync notifications, and recording devices you left off look like the future of Cortana c Onsumer (and Business) Windows PCs Microsoft is even trying to split Windows Search and Cortana so you can search for files on your PC without getting in the way of Cortana. not mindlessly advancing a digital assistant.
Businesses Can Build Cortana-Based Assistants
The future of Cortana also seems to be the company. Microsoft offers a virtual assistant solution that allows developers to create their own virtual wizards and chatbots.
As Brad Sams of Petri says, Microsoft lets companies build their own Cortana. The future of Cortana may not be an exciting consumer product, but a backbone for the individual enterprise solutions of different companies. Microsoft has always focused on enterprise software, a strategy that has made it one of the most valuable companies in the world.
For example, BMW builds its own "intelligent personal assistant" for its cars. According to GeekWire, it uses "Microsoft Cloud and Artificial Intelligence tools" to create it. The BMW assistant will be integrated into Alexa and Cortana. Other companies are likely to create their own wizards and chatbots, and Microsoft will be using Cortana technology to help them with it.
This looks like the future of Cortana – as a comfortable productivity workhorse or as the basis for the digital assistant of another company. Cortana will not always be an end-user-focused digital assistant displayed on a popular smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or the brilliant Google Home Hub display.
However, there are some niches that Cortana can fill, and Microsoft is smart to focus on its strengths.
Credit: ymgerman / Shutterstock, Harman Kardon, BMW