Microsoft is reconsidering its assistant Cortana, announcing that it will close current iOS and Android apps, end Cortana’s support for the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker, and remove the original Cortana functionality from first-generation Surface earphones starting in 2021.
These changes are still a few months away, but it marks another big step for Microsoft by diverting Cortana from a Google Assistant or an Alexa alternative to a more specialized and productivity-focused assistant: changes the company has already begun to make. in the Windows 10 version of Cortana earlier this year. (To that end, Microsoft also set a date for September 7 in the previously announced launch of third-party Cortana skills for Windows.)
Instead, Microsoft will focus on its productivity features that reuse Cortana as part of the Microsoft 365 software package, citing the revamped features of Windows 10 and Cortana’s built-in features in Outlook and Teams apps as replacements. Not as comprehensive as the original Cortana, which offers additional features like smart home controls and music integration, but by offering a less extensive set of features, Microsoft hopes to create a product that better complements its existing software and competes less directly with established players like Google and Amazon.
Microsoft is also offering a $ 50 gift card consolation offer for Harman Kardon Invoke owners, who will be most affected by the removal of Cortana, which will effectively turn the previously smart device into an expensive Bluetooth speaker when the update arrives. firmware next year. . Owners of the original Surface Headphones (who will also have their Cortana experience removed) are also offered a $ 25 gift card to make up for lost service.