UNITED STATES: In a recent announcement, Microsoft confirmed that its virtual assistant, Cortana, will be discontinued as a standalone app for Windows in late 2023. Named after the iconic AI assistant from the Halo video game series, Microsoft unveiled Cortana in 2014, marking nearly a decade of its existence.
The discontinuation of Cortana as a standalone app for Windows does not mean the end of its presence entirely.
The virtual assistant will still be available on other Microsoft platforms, including Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display, and Microsoft Teams rooms. This change only affects the virtual assistant’s availability within the Windows ecosystem.
Microsoft explained the decision by stating that users now have the option to fulfil their productivity needs using different tools without having to launch the Cortana app.
Instead of clicking on the Cortana icon, users can now use voice commands across various Microsoft tools. Interestingly, this move follows Microsoft’s decision to discontinue the Cortana app for Android and iOS devices in 2020.
Furthermore, Microsoft phased the virtual assistant out of the Windows taskbar with the launch of Windows 11. The exact reasons behind Microsoft’s gradual phasing out of Cortana and the specific timeline for its discontinuation later this year remain unclear.
However, this decision aligns with the tech giant’s increasing focus on generative AI. Like Google, Microsoft is developing AI-powered work tools, such as the Bing chatbot and Microsoft 365 Copilot, which leverage OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology.
Microsoft’s substantial investments in OpenAI, amounting to billions of dollars, have led to the creation of a growing range of AI-powered products.
This trend suggests that the company may remove support for several other legacy apps in the future as it continues to prioritise advancements in artificial intelligence.
As Microsoft moves forward with its strategic focus on AI-powered work tools, the phasing out of Cortana as a standalone app signifies a shift in the company’s approach.
Users can expect to see further developments and innovations in Microsoft’s suite of AI-driven solutions as it aims to enhance productivity and efficiency in the workplace.