Microsoft Reiterates Cortana’s Role in Windows 10

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10 with 29 Comments

Cortana has been going through a ton of changes lately. Microsoft killed Cortana for mobile devices in certain countries last year and it also started integrating it into other apps like Outlook’s mobile apps.

All of this was part of Microsoft’s plan to redefine what Cortana is supposed to be. The company is today officially announcing a new Cortana experience in Windows 10, which we knew about since June 2019, and was under testing with Insiders for a short while.

Microsoft is turning Cortana into a personal productivity assistant in the next update for Windows 10. “The upcoming update to Windows 10 will include access to a new Cortana experience with an emphasis on productivity, helping you quickly find the information you want across Microsoft 365,” says Andrew Shuman, Corporate Vice President of Cortana at Microsoft.

The new Cortana experience features a conversational interface that allows users to interact with Cortana with voice or keyboard. The new experience is mainly built for English (United States) users. The new update will allow them to check their calendars, create/query emails, set reminders, work with Microsoft To-Do, get answers from Bing, set timers, open apps, etc. And outside the US, the initial release of the new Cortana experience will let users get answers from Bing, with more productivity-focused updates coming in the future.

With the shift towards productivity-focused features, Cortana in Windows 10 will no longer offer features such as integration with third-party music services, or connected home features. Microsoft will also be disabling Cortana features in the Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April.

All of this is not anything new — Microsoft has been talking about Cortana as a productivity assistant in the recent months, so this is not surprising at all. This is essentially Microsoft reiterating what Cortana is supposed to be in Windows 10 going forward, and that’s necessary because the next update to Windows 10 — version 2004 — is just right around the corner.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Microsoft Reiterates Cortana’s Role in Windows 10”

  1. bart

    Cortana, Corona....

    Don't think anybody needs either

  2. doctorhoo

    Has anybody heard any more on the future of Harmon Kardon's Invoke speakers?

    I made the mistake of buying 4 Invokes. I had two of them set up and I really like them. I love the sound quality (it's better than the Echo Dots and Google Homes that I also have) and I've been pretty happy with them. I use them for listening to the radio (via TuneIn), setting timers, and as my alarm clock. I have also set up a reminder and it showed up in my Windows PC. Really neat! I really like Cortana's personality. I like the first two so much that I bought 2 more from Microsoft's store at $49 each.

    But I made the mistake of waiting too long before setting the other two up.

    I have been trying since December 2019 to set them up using both my Windows 10 PC and an Android phone. They both connect to the speakers. Everything seems to be going well but it never finishes. Cortana tells me it needs to update the system software/firmware on the speakers and to please wait. Eventually, Cortana tells me that something went wrong and that I should start the setup process over again.

    I keep repeating and the same thing happens. It seems like it is trying to update the software/firmware to the latest version but the server is down or something so it can never finish the set up process.

    Is there any way I can manually update the firmware on the Invokes to the latest? There is a USB port on the Invoke that is supposed to be used for "service". Can this be used to update the firmware? Is there updated firmware available for download somewhere that I apply to the Invoke?

    Can Microsoft just put the server back up again so I can set up my remaining two Invokes? Why not use Azure Cloud services to host the server?

    I tried emailing Harmon Kardon but I can tell they won't be of much help (they seemed clueless about this). I just can't stand the thought of having two brand new Invoke speakers that are useless right out of the box.

  3. wright_is

    In reply to SherlockHolmes:

    I deactivate Cortana when I set up new PCs, apart from shouting at me when I run through the initial set-up, I never hear a peep out of here.

    At home, Cortana is still activated, but I haven't clicked on the icon for over a year and it hasn't interrupted me.

  4. robinwilson16

    For a long time now since Cortana was separated into a UWP app (on insider builds) it has always just shown a message saying "Sorry, but Cortana is not available in English (United Kingdom) at this time."

    • ponsaelius

      In reply to robinwilson16:

      English (United Kingdom) is a tough language for Microsoft. Cortana has always struggled with foreign languages. When I had my WindowsPhone it did almost manage to do things in English (UK) but never quite got all the advertised features.

      Cortana has morphed from the "most personal assistant ever" on WindowsPhone to Clippy 2.0.

  5. nbplopes

    What does it mean to be a personal productivity assistant? Even less useful than it was?

    I have heard that is out of their Android launcher too, starting in April.

    • wright_is

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I have yet to find a mobile device that is compatible with Cortana. The iOS version refuses to install on iPhone 6/7/8/X/Xs, the Android version refuses to install on Nexus 5X, Pixel 2/3, Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8/S9/S10, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Mate 10 Pro, P20 or P-Smart. It just tells me I don't have a compatible device, because I am in Germany...

  6. branpurn

    All I ask is to let Cortana put crap in my Microsoft To-Do (Outlook Tasks) lists with some level off efficacy ?

  7. IanYates82

    I don't get the US centric focus always used here. I get it for other languages, but surely Britain, Australia, New Zealand & Canada (ok, so the "five eyes" countries) speak the same language. Why not let it work in them at least? (yes, me being selfish and not advocating for other countries - sorry)

    • wright_is

      In reply to IanYates82:

      It has always been this way. It was the same with Windows Phone, the biggest markets (non-English Europe, for the most part) got everything later than the USA and only half-heartedly. Cortana never worked properly in non-English.

      Meanwhile, the USA got all the new features, even though it hardly sold any phones there, compared to Europe - at its height, Windows Phone outsold iPhones in Germany and their height is still around what iPhone's market share is today.

      There have always been hardcore Microsoft fans outside of the USA who clammer for products produced only for the US market, yet those things don't sell in America, so they never get sold abroad.

      Zune, Band, Windows Phone, Cortana.

      What I really don't understand with Cortana is that they released it in German Windows 10 nearly half a decade ago, yet it is still unavailable on Android or iOS, because there is no backend infrastructure!?!? Microsoft is bigging up Azure and can't even get Cortana to talk to Android and iOS, when it is already talking to Windows 10?

  8. ponsaelius

    Since I don't live in the US I don't expect to see this for a l-o-n-g time.....

  9. anderb

    "All of this was part of Microsoft’s plan to redefine what Cortana is supposed to be."

    The only Windows 10 app without an icon designed by Duplo?

  10. jupast

    Queue Rubino and Bowden insisting it's 'still alive' and that anyone who says otherwise is an Idiot, like they do with UWP. Seems with some people it's a 5 stages of grief thing.

  11. red.radar

    Cortana evokes similar emotions that Clippy did...

  12. red77star

    I said this is DOA 5 years ago...your truly red star. Now, I am back to show a middle finger to anyone here claiming different or calling me stupid and things of that hard feeling. I said I will be back to remind you how right I was about everything in Windows 10, Store, UWP, Cortana, Live Tiles.

  13. yaddamaster

    Cortana is basically dead to me. If I had the time, I'd remove it from Windows 10 completely. It just now pops up from time to time offering useless advice.

    Having said that, I have two Invoke speakers that I use all the time with Spotify. Hoping that still works. If not, I can always use the bluetooth integration.

    Microsoft's failure as a consumer play is now complete.

    • rlbumpus

      In reply to yaddamaster: Your Invoke still works? Mine quit and I assume it was because of Cortana changes already. I haven't been able to reconnect it. I believe they can be repurposed to respond to Alexa though.

      • yaddamaster

        In reply to rlbumpus: the dumb things have always had a tendency to need to be rebooted and reconnected about once a month. But yeah - still works. They're a great little speaker.

        Quality speaker. Cortana - so much potential. Alas.

  14. vincentw56

    Is Cortona the new "Clippy"? What about the Invoke?

    • crp0908

      In reply to vincentw56:

      Some of us actually liked Clippy and have fond memories of him.

      Not sure if the same can ever be said about Cortana. The only 'fond' memories I have of her is when she is startling me when I am building PCs - something about "Now we have important setup to do." At least newer versions of Windows 10 no longer do that.

    • r2d22

      In reply to vincentw56:

      invoke still works, but mehdi didn't update his article

      • vincentw56

        In reply to r2d22:

        The Invoke still works for now. Yes, it may still work for some commands, but the only thing I use it for (Music and some smart house stuff) is being removed. So, it isn't useful any more for me. I will just hook it up to an Echo Dot using BT since it is still a nice speaker.

  15. Passinttd

    Haven't used Cortana since they took away package tracking and it taking package information from emails. Maybe one day they will figure out a way to make it useful again.

  16. prjman

    In reply to SherlockHolmes: I would assume you would also be able to enable a different assistant at some point, but that isn't here yet.