Is Cortana already a dead platform

There is a lot of hype about Cortana in the Microsoft world, it’s AI and capabilities.

I wonder how much Cortana is really used on the PC and whether the “Cortana search” is just people typing in the box as a convenience.

I am also in the UK and for many of us outside the USA Cortana features just dont exist. Cortana has never noticed an email from British Airways about my holidays. It hasn’t got a clue about railway journeys in the UK, when Yodel or DPD are going to deliver a parcel, or even my local buses that it consistently gets wrong.

It also has problems about timing my trip to work because I dont have a car. Even if I did traffic conditions are an unknown quantity. There is much more but fundamentally it is not a lot of use. 

Where these features are most useful are in mobile. Getting to the right place with map integration etc. However Windows 10 Mobile is not the most popular platform and in the Uk it suffers from mapping inaccuracy and poor knowledge of the locality. That’s really strange because “Local Scout”, the old Windowsphone “local” solution was pretty good. 

Of course Cortana can’t show me electronically stored tickets because it has no apps or knowledge of the local transit. That seems to be changing in the maps app but many times it’s just wrong. When I am mobile it cant pop up flght delays because it can’t process airline ticket stuff in Europe it seems. I have read up on this and apparently the email sent by the airline has to be in specific format. Well that’s not going to happen soon because business jsut doesn’t help like that. You have to develop some kind of AI recognition – a little like the skill Cortana is supposed to have.

if you have to use an Android phone for a while then Cortana disappears. Outside the USA Cortana is not even in the Play Store. You are forced to using Google Now which seems to work very well here in the UK. You can sideload Cortana manually here in Britain on your Android devicebut it only accepts US regional settings so it’s less useful than the Windowsphone version.

Google just re-branded to the Google Assistant and with the non-existance of a Microsoft mobile device strategy the direction of travel is people using Google Now or Siri as their primary AI bot assistant. 

Cortana had great potential when launched but all the other platforms have matured much faster than the Master Chief’s AI. Microsoft are showing no real move to making Cortana’s existing features to work well globally and keep adding US only features. It’s a sure receipe for parochial AI. A sort of “Truman Show” AI that works great inside a limited bubble. 

Conversation 12 comments

  • 5615

    10 October, 2016 - 1:47 am

    <p>For what it’s worth, I’ve disabled Cortana on all of my&nbsp;Windows 10 Pro devices (to the extent possible — and since I’m&nbsp;on the "business" ring, for the time being I’ve&nbsp;been able to delay getting the AU with its&nbsp;reduced ability to disable these sorts of things). I may not be the typical use case because I’ve never really seen the need to use Cortana, so I haven’t (in fact, Cortana used to get in the way when all I wanted to do was a simple search, which helped motivate the decision to disable it). I have my (Android) phone handle all of the personal AI things because it’s always with me, my PC is not.</p>
    <p>I’m not a heavy user of Cortana-type "AI" to begin with. There are a few limited things I may invoke "OK Google" to do (like set an alarm or set up cards to track things of interest) and it’s convenient having reminders, etc. show up in a contextual way, but too often you have to fiddle with things too much to get an acceptable result (and even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll consistently get the desired&nbsp;result).</p>
    <p>I can’t say whether or not Cortana’s&nbsp;dead. I personally have not used it. There’s just no compelling use case for me at the moment. That may change in the future; you never know.</p>

  • 399

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2016 - 2:48 am

    <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"You can sideload Cortana manually here in Britain on your Android devicebut it only accepts US regional settings so it&rsquo;s less useful than the Windowsphone version."</p>
    <p>Unless you’re an American Football fan. US Cortana is a lot better than UK Cortana for sports scores (except for the version found on WP 8.1) . I’m guessing we’re going to have to wait until the Seahawks play a game over here before that starts to work.</p>
    <p>And as a Halo fan, I want Cortana to have an American accent. Cortana with a British accent is just wrong.</p>

  • 5611

    10 October, 2016 - 5:40 am

    The answer is actually straighforward. No, it’s not dead. AI is the future – that we know. Therefore, Cortana (or whatever Cortana evolves into) is also part of the future. The fact that it’s USA centric at the moment doesn’t change anything in terms of the long term future of AI.

    • 399

      Premium Member
      10 October, 2016 - 10:28 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#19838">In reply to WP7Mango:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The fact that it’s USA centric at the moment doesn’t change anything in terms of the long term future of AI.</p>
      <p>It could change the long term future of MS and Cortana&nbsp;though.</p>

  • 442

    10 October, 2016 - 1:34 pm

    <p>Searching a computer is a key function.&nbsp; Who gives a rat what they name it.&nbsp; As long as the search is there and it works.&nbsp; I see folks using it daily, for both local and for internet searching.&nbsp; Most that spend the time learning it’s many features enjoy using it a lot.&nbsp; There are those that prefer other search engines, which is great.&nbsp; Use what works best for you and go on without bitching.</p>

  • 440

    Premium Member
    11 October, 2016 - 6:01 am

    <p>It’s another frustrating thing about being a fan of Microsoft. I have the Amazon Echo in a few rooms in our house and it is really useful. I have it tied into our home automation and to be able to speak to the room and the lights come on or off, temperatures change or the TV comes on is really useful. My wife uses it as a music player in any room she is in. What it lacks though is the deeper awareness that Cortana has. I want to be able to ask it more complex questions and for it to have deeper integration with my schedule as Cortana does.</p>
    <p>It’s just painful right now. I really think Cortana is a superior virtual assistant but being tied to just the PC is crippling. MS has to get this on a ambient device similar to the Echo or on a mobile platform where it can really integrate it.</p>

    • 5542

      11 October, 2016 - 6:58 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#20021">In reply to ne0kn1ght:</a>&nbsp; &nbsp;I serioiusly don’t get the Echo thing. &nbsp;First I don’t trust Amazon with any more data than I already give them. &nbsp;Second I can do everything you mentioned with my iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. and they’re all over the hosue too. &nbsp;In fact I just had my iPhone in the bedroom hear me 30 feet away in the dinning room say "Turn off livingroom lights" which turned off my Hue lights. &nbsp;Best of all HomeKit works when you are away from your WiFi network and I can use all my home automation devices while on the road. &nbsp;But my issue with Siri, and all the rest, is when you are in a home with multiple people. &nbsp;How and when will these devices undersand and act on things transparently when there is more than one person and more than one account. &nbsp;For example saying "Add Lunch with Dave tomorrow at Fosters". &nbsp;Who’s calendar? &nbsp;Who is speaking? &nbsp;Which users Dave contact. As far as I know currently there is no device that can differentiate that and take action without further user intervention. No, I dont want to start with "Alexa, switch accounts", it should just know. In a home with many people everything now becomes a two command process. &nbsp;I think, well hope, Apple and others are attempting to resolve that in some future releases. Maybe that’s&nbsp;why they have been so quiet on this type of thing outside the 1:1 Phone interaction. For me this inability to have transparent user context is a severe limitation of these devices in a connected home. &nbsp;IMHO!<br /><br />NOTE: Please excuse any typos or mispellings but this forum’s page format is incompatible with "Check Spelling as you type".</em></blockquote>

      • 399

        Premium Member
        11 October, 2016 - 10:24 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#20027">In reply to Jeffsters:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>If you don’t already have iDevices scattered around the house, then the Echo’s a fairly good option&nbsp;for a&nbsp;voice control/network speaker combination (though it’ll be intereresting to see how it compares to Google’s offering).</p>
        <p>As for home automation, it’s just a control point and not a HA system unto itself. In my case, it’s connected to a combined SmartThings, LightwaveRF and Nest setup so I still have full control when I’m away from home.</p>

  • 5273

    Premium Member
    11 October, 2016 - 7:10 am

    <p>I just currently have no desire to speak to my computer. To Cortana or otherwise.</p>

    • 5615

      11 October, 2016 - 12:10 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#20030">In reply to RobotRaccoon:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>None of our dekstop PCs even have microphones, so for us it’s a moot point even if there was a compelling reason to want to do so.</p>

  • 5802

    11 October, 2016 - 7:35 am

    <p>Cortana had no problems while I was on vacation in the UK a few weeks ago. Aer Lingus flight updates pulled from email, local scout showing me places to eat, etc.</p>
    <p>It really makes me wonder why Cortana isn’t fully enabled in all regions. Doesn’t Microsoft want people to use it?</p>

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