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.