Less than a week after the departure of Dr. Shen Xiangyang, Microsoft’s executive vice president of global executive and head of Microsoft’s Research Division, Microsoft Announced a strategic contraction of its voice assistant Cortana, which will exit the iOS and Android platforms on January 31, 2020. But the U.S. market will implement the move later, currently only in China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Spain, India and other eight countries. It is reported that Cortana was also one of the projects under Dr. Shen Xiangyang’s responsibility.
A Microsoft spokesman said in a statement:
Cortana is part of our broader vision of bringing conversational computing and productivity to all of our platforms and devices. To make Cortana as useful as possible, we integrated Cortana more deeply into the Microsoft 365 Productivity application, and part of this evolution involved ending support for Cortana mobile apps on Android and iOS.
It is unclear how long Cortana, which applies to iOS and Android apps, will continue to run in the US after January 31. A Microsoft spokesman simply told the outside world that the U.S. still supports the feature.
Cortana is Microsoft’s AI try
Microsoft first launched Cortana for iOS and Android in December 2015, which was originally designed to connect Windows 10 PCs and phones. Despite major redesigns, Microsoft has failed to compete with other vendors’ voice assistants on the phone side and elsewhere.
Cortana is now embedded in devices such as Xbox, Windows 10 and Invoke speakers, and Microsoft has promoted Cortana in Windows 10 Mobile before, but with little success, Lei said.
It currently serves hundreds of millions of devices, but it’s not as popular on the market as Amazon’s Alexa, Google and Apple’s Siri.
Cortana is Microsoft’s first personal intelligence assistant released by Microsoft. It “understands the user’s preferences and habits” and “helps users with scheduling, answering questions, and so on.” Cortana is arguably Microsoft’s experiment in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
What Microsoft wants to achieve is that the smart interaction between mobile phone users and Xiaona is not simply based on a storage-based question-and-answer session, but a conversation.
It records users’ behavior and usage habits, uses cloud computing, search engines, and “unstructured data” analytics to read and “learn” data including text files, e-mail, pictures, videos, and so on from mobile phones to understand the user’s semantics and context, enabling human-computer interaction.
A simple example is that if the schedule recorded on your phone shows that you’re going to attend a meeting, Cortana will automatically tune the phone to the meeting status when cortana arrives without any action.
This is also the beginning of Microsoft’s research from personal computers to personal computing.
Waterloo and “Integrated”
Over the past year, however, Microsoft’s Cortana has lagged behind Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, two voice assistants.
In January 2019, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company no longer sees Cortana as a competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
“You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just as you do on Android and iOS, at least that’s where we want to be.” ”
In terms of performance, Microsoft has partnered with Amazon to integrate Cortana and Alexa, and when the partnership was launched, Nadella compared digital assistants to Web browsers that needed interoperability and access to similar information.
According to a New York Times report on August 30, 2017, Microsoft and Amazon have launched a partnership to better integrate their voice assistants, Cortana and Alexa.
Left: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, right: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
According to the New York Times, under the partnership between the two companies, users will have access to Cortana’s services on Alexa devices and vice versa.
However, the initial integration of the two will be a bit awkward.
For example, someone using an Alexa device would have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to enjoy Cortana’s voice assistant service, while users of a device connected to Cortana Assistant services would have to say “Cortana, open Alexa”. In this way, the two companies can only use more based features and services on their respective platforms at this stage.
It is now clear that Nadella sees Cortana as an application or service that can run on multiple platforms, rather than a weapon for mobile device users such as Microsoft.
Microsoft still needs to convince Google that Cortana integration is a good idea.
One notable time node is that in the second half of 2018, Microsoft moved Cortana out of AI Research and joined its experience and device team, marking Nadella’s focus on Cortana as an assistant across multiple products and platforms.
It also means that its strategic contraction has been under way since then.
What do you think of Microsoft’s move?
At the end of the article, Lei Feng has attached a complete support instruction for Microsoft’s UK site:
To make your personal digital assistant as helpful as possible, we integrate Cortana into your Microsoft 365 Productivity application. As part of our development, we will end support for Cortana apps on Android and iOS in your market on January 31, 2020. At that time, the Cortana content you create, such as reminders and lists, will no longer function in the Cortana mobile app or Microsoft Launcher, but will still be accessible through Cortana on Windows. In addition, Cortana reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the Microsoft To Do app, which you can download for free to your phone.
After January 31, 2020, the Cortana mobile app on your phone will no longer be supported, and an updated version of Cortana’s Microsoft Launcher will be removed.