Microsoft is Killing Cortana on Mobile, Invoke, and Surface Headphones

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, Music + Videos, Smart Home, Windows 10 with 64 Comments

Too Little Too Late, Microsoft Voices Support for Cortana

A Microsoft support document reveals that the firm will end support for Cortana on mobile, the Invoke smart speaker, and Surface Headphones.

“As we shift [Cortana] toward a transformational AI-powered assistant experience in Microsoft 365, we need to adjust our focus areas of innovation and development to give our customers assistance where they need it most,” the support document explains. “As a result, we are making changes to some U.S. consumer-centric features and functionalities with lower usage.”

Here’s where Microsoft is killing Cortana.

Third-party Cortana skills. Microsoft is ending all support for third-party Cortana skills on September 7.

Android and iOS. The Cortana mobile app for Android and iOS will no longer be supported starting in early 2021. “You can now manage your calendar and email, join meetings, and do so much more via our new productivity-focused experiences, like the Cortana Windows 10 experience, Cortana integration in Outlook mobile, and soon Cortana voice assistance in the Teams mobile app,” Microsoft notes.

Harmon Kardon Invoke smart speaker. Microsoft will end support for Cortana service integration in the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker in January 2021. “We know that most of our customers primarily use the Invoke to play music because of its premium quality sound,” the firm says. “To make sure you can keep listening to music or your favorite podcasts, we’ve worked closely with Harman Kardon to create a Bluetooth-enabled device transition plan that we hope will help ease the impact of this change.” This will arrive via a firmware update within six months of its release; once the Invoke is updated, Cortana will no longer be accessible on the device. Customers who foolishly ignored my advice to not buy this speaker may quality for a $50 Microsoft Store gift card. You can learn more on the Invoke support website.

Surface Headphones. Microsoft is removing support for Cortana in the first version of Surface Headphones. But it notes that customers of either version of Surface Headphones (and Surface Earbuds) can implicitly access Cortana via the Outlook mobile app’s Play My Emails feature. Owners of first-generation Surface Headphones can learn more about a Microsoft gift card program on its support website. 

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Comments (64)

64 responses to “Microsoft is Killing Cortana on Mobile, Invoke, and Surface Headphones”

  1. cavalier_eternal

    So asking an Invoke to do something will be a lot like talking to my ex. MS is missing rebranding moment. "Our upcoming update will bring personality to your Invoke never before seen on a smart speaker. Now you can relive that unhealthy relationship in less emotionally taxing way."

  2. Singingwolf

    This marks the end of my 30 years of Microsoft support. I have purchased nearly all their consumer products. I know most people have given up long ago. This is my line in the sand.

  3. jhoersch

    Sad news. Unfortunately my Invoke has been a paperweight for almost a year now, the power socket at the bottom of the device is faulty and the plug doesn't stay properly connected :(

  4. wright_is

    Great artwork, as ever Paul. You have a real nose for coming up with some really great headline pictures for these sorts of stories!

    Warner Brother's lawyers calling in 3... 2... 1... :-D

  5. navarac

    Oh what a surprise - NOT. Again why on earth would anyone risk buying into Microsoft?

  6. remc86007

    Does this mean that Spotify direct functionality is being removed? That's all I've ever used it for. It's way better than Bluetooth.

  7. red.radar

    I think this is a good transition for the technology. I never use voice assistants. Maybe the occasional Siri action because my hands are full. So I don’t think this is a loss I am not certain the market for voice assistants has really brought customers or direct revenue

    I am just wondering about this ambient cortana experience, it sounds a lot like Clippy 2.0...

  8. ghostrider

    Wow. Who saw this one coming (like everyone). Microsoft sticks it to the consumer once again, but then, then consumer lost interest in Microsoft a long time ago, so it's mutual really. One more step to the cloud for MS.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I figure damn near every manager at MSFT knows the future is ever more reliance on enterprise customers and B2B, but there's a paranoia of admitting MSFT has become IBM 2.0 which runs so deep at MSFT that they just can't help themselves continuing to flop around in consumer markets like a landed fish who just refuses to die.

  9. SenorGravy

    HAHA! I'm getting good at being a Microsoft enthusiast.

    I knew this product was doomed the minute it was announced. So I waited a few months and bought my Invoke on clearance at Best Buy for $75. Been using it as a bluetooth speaker since. Fabulous hardware. I just wish there was a way that Amazon software could get loaded. It'd be an AWESOME Alexa. Still, for $75 it's been a good experience and I've gotten my money's worth.

    Just yet another example of a cool Microsoft idea that was half baked and left to wither and die on the vine. So sad.

  10. waethorn

    So, no more scAmazon market collection?

  11. jupast

    Was very hopeful initially but it soon became obvious that Microsoft US-centric policies meant this was never worth bothering with, even with the clunky workarounds. And yet, Amazon and Google had no problems getting their Assistants working fine overseas.

    Years of false-promises and the usual 'We hear you' non-sense again lead to the killing of something promising they only half-assed from the start. What a shock end result /s

  12. hrlngrv

    Everything which was ever touched by Windows phones dies an early death.

  13. SvenJ

    So what now differentiates Microsoft's Surface Headphones and Earbuds? That Play My Emails feature is available on any connected BT device. I do like my Surface headphones, largely for the UI. The big dials are super easy to use. Outside of that they are 'comparable' to other active noise cancelling headphones, but they don't stand out. Nothing special about the earbuds either without some Office/Windows integration. (and they are ugly ? )

  14. winner

    Just about the time they've pushed Edge on everybody, they'll probably drop that, too.

    Even though it's a part of the OS, haha.

  15. shmuelie

    I've known this was coming and fine, but this means that I still don't have a good voice assistant that I can use on my android phone and PC! Google assistant is best on Android but no Windows integration. Alexa has windows integration but only so so on Android.

  16. SvenJ

    Was just doing my Invoke redemption stuff. Note that if you have more than one, you need to provide MAC addresses via an e-mail to the redemption address. Not clear what would happen if you did one, then tried to do another. It has you log in with the MS account used to set one up. Possibly it would only let you log in once. Read the FAQs.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to SvenJ: Got a reply to my e-mail, noting you can do one yourself on the site, but would need to do the other(s) via e-mail. Got a clue what would happen if you tried to do both. Wife and I have Surface Headphones. I did mine on line. When I tried to do hers, logged in as me, it just brought up the one I had already done. No problem doing hers with her login, and the code isn't tied to a person. It's just a gift card code. I imagine that is what would happen if you tried to do more than one Invoke on one login.

  17. dave.liao

    I was bummed to hear about Cortana being relegated to "Clippy 2.0". The first time I used Cortana on a Windows Phone was magical!

  18. Stooks

    In reply to shameermulji:

    And the only reason Microsoft has not dumped gaming is because of it subscription potential.

  19. Greg Green

    From PCWorld a few months ago: Andrew Shuman, the corporate vice president in charge of Cortana, “With the Invoke, all we saw with any reliability was playing music. And honestly, it was ‘play artist’ or ‘play genre’ because people can’t remember the right way to say a song title or an album name or any of these things.”

    So it’s not the programmers‘ fault, the customers were just saying it wrong. That attitude might explain a lot of MS’ problems with consumer items.

  20. Rob_Wade

    Not surprising. But, of course, this means there is ZERO hope that anyone will do squat about giving us a REAL assistant. ALL of them are virtually useless. Not a single company has a clue what to do or how to do it. They're ignorant. Completely and utterly ignorant. And, worse, most customers are in love with their stupid tin foil hats and refuse to push developers to give us a real assistant. I'm so sick of being decades ahead of my time.

  21. waethorn

    "It's dead, Jim."

  22. John Spear

    “As we shift [Cortana] toward a transformational AI-powered assistant experience in Microsoft 365"

    Why does this sound to me like "As we shift Cortana back to Clippy …"

  23. John123654

    Sign the petition on "Migrate HK Invoke to Alexa or Google Assistant"

  24. yaddamaster

    This is awesome. I bought two Invoke speakers. One for $100 and one for $50. I received credits (which I'll use for xBox games) totally $100. So really, I got two very nice bluetooth speakers with premium audio for $50.

    I'll take that deal. And the fact that it worked for so long integrated with Spotify is a bonus.

    I still don't get the whole personal assistant craze.

  25. codymesh

    Cortana was good on Windows Phone, especially for its driving features. But really, after Windows Phone died, it was rejected by users on Windows 10 who were overwhelmingly not interested in using a voice assistant on their PCs.

    Cortana on Android was decent but unless it was preloaded on phones or forced on users like Bixby is, it had no chance.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to codymesh:

      I can't tell whether MSFT really believed or merely paid lip service to the notion that EVERYTHING would be as welcome AND USED across all types of devices. Cortana was the poster child for this. It was always absurd that Cortana would catch on in cubicle farm workplaces. So obviously inappropriate that only a MSFT visionary would be incapable of recognizing that awkward fact.

  26. pcdoeswhat

    Customers who foolishly ignored my advice to not buy this speaker may quality for a $50 Microsoft Store gift card.”

    I’d been waiting for the email for a while and was surprised it didn’t come sooner.

    Having been a Windows Phone user, I knew this day would come. But I purchased my first Invoke when the price dropped from $200 to $100, and the second one when they were trying offload them at $50. So if they’re offering $50 for each device, and I can still listen to music via Bluetooth, I can’t really be upset about it to be honest. I got two to three years out of the “smart” features.

    I will miss the blue light and Cortana’s quips and jokes. I won’t, however, miss Cortana not hearing my questions while standing next to the device... while other times having both speakers in different rooms trigger at the same time. I was ready to cover the mics anyway...

  27. ponsaelius

    Microsoft is getting competitive with Google. I really can't keep up with the list of abandoned products.

  28. miamimauler

    We have all said this time and again over the past couple of years. Cortana died for consumers the day Windows Mobile died. Sorry to those who loved Cortana but nothing to see here.

    MS stopped supporting Cortana for consumers a couple of years ago and anyone surprised by this hasn't been paying attention.

  29. olditpro2000

    Does anyone use the Cortana experiences in Office 365? Serious question. I'm not even sure how to access them.

  30. bluvg

    "$50 Microsoft Store gift card"

    "Oh wait... we killed the Store, too..."

  31. blue77star

    Microsoft never even gave a proper support and chance for Cortana. They are shifting focus to Microsoft 365 in other words non consumer, boring company.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to blue77star:

      Publicly owned companies need to work for the benefit of their shareholders first and foremost. MSFT is going where the money is, as they're REQUIRED to do.

      Like it or not, MSFT is now too old, too big, and too risk-averse ever to be a major player in consumer markets beyond PC gaming and Xbox, and odds are it'll be in MSFT's AND Xbox's best interests for MSFT to spin off Xbox soon enough.

  32. lilmoe

    The least they could do is issue a firmware update so that my Invoke can pair with any device without Cortana. Not happy at all. This is not the same as ending support for a product, it's literally bricking devices remotely. It's the same as a car company rendering your car useless because they decided so.

    Good job promoting disposable tech guys. Well done.

  33. luis3007

    No surprise since Cortana never went beyond a US centric vision while Siri and Google went global!!!

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to luis3007:

      The classic MSFT penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to global roll-outs.

      Or as one of my co-workers from some years ago would have put it, MSFT adhere's to a Can't Lose rather than Must Win approach to products. That is, taking risks and losing is so horrible for MSFT employees that such situations must be avoided at all costs, even when doing so precludes potential big wins.

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to luis3007:

      True. But both Siri and Google are garbage. Complete and total garbage. Nobody gets it. Not a single company has a clue about a real assistant. They are all idiots.

  34. christianwilson

    Without a mobile OS to run native on and lack of a dominant smart home platform, I think pushing Cortana into the background is the only way forward. Cortana makes a lot more sense embedded into Microsoft services where it can help in the background.

  35. jensengregory

    "Customers who foolishly ignored my advice to not buy this speaker may quality for a $50 Microsoft Store gift card."

    Um, excuse me, Paul. The $30 Invoke I bought brand new 2 months ago from eBay doesn't look so foolish now, does it?!

  36. petteri

    Oh well. I do wish they could find a way to keep streaming Spotify directly from the speaker. Also, they did enable Alexa through a dumb botch from within Cortana, wonder why they just can't make it an Alexa device now.

  37. harrymyhre

    I remember being at a Walmart and seeing a young boy playing xbox with a Kinect and the kid was really having fun. I thought “wow microsoft is really rocking!”

    and now this

    oh well

  38. winner

    I can hear the Loony Tunes outro theme playing in my head.

  39. PanamaVet

    Will the day come when a HoloLens purchased today loses functionality prematurely?