Microsoft has been attempting to incorporate a virtual assistant into its Windows OS for years. Cortana, the digital assistant once hailed as a novel and innovative aspect of Windows 10, is now being gradually removed from the operating system. This development is unsurprising, given the feature’s gradual decline in prominence, to the extent that its omission from Windows 11 was barely detectable.
Cortana is Leaving Windows
Microsoft recently announced that beginning in late 2023, Cortana will cease to function as a standalone application in Windows. Consequently, the primary Cortana interface in the taskbar will be removed, but other assistant technologies bearing the same name will remain. Cortana will continue to be present in mobile apps for Teams and Outlook, as well as Teams rooms and the Teams display. Nevertheless, the assistant’s capabilities within these environments will be significantly reduced compared to its previous potential.
Microsoft promotes Windows Copilot and voice access in Windows 11 as alternatives to Cortana; however, the former remains unavailable, and neither feature will be introduced to Windows 10. While Copilot and Bing Chat can search the web akin to Cortana, they currently lack access to personal data such as reminders and calendars, a capability Cortana retains.
Cortana was a key selling point for Windows 10, but its popularity waned rapidly after its release. It became apparent that a virtual assistant was less essential for desktop computers than for mobile devices. Moreover, Cortana’s delayed smart home device integration and occasional intrusiveness led users to disable it. The absence of a direct successor in Windows 11 underscores Cortana’s minimal influence on Windows 10.
Furthermore, Cortana’s removal evokes reminiscences of Microsoft’s earlier approach to unifying mobile and desktop experiences. This relates to the conversation surrounding Microsoft’s virtual assistant strategy for Windows.
Windows Copilot and Voice Access
Despite Cortana’s modest performance on Windows 10, Microsoft remains committed to its virtual assistant approach. The company is exploring innovative methods to incorporate digital assistants within the Windows environment.
Windows Copilot and Voice Access represent the initial steps Microsoft aims to take with virtual assistants within its operating system. Although not yet available on Windows 10, these enhancements provide advanced functionalities surpassing the original Cortana experience.
Microsoft acknowledges the importance of virtual assistants in modern computing and invests in their continuous integration. With the growth of smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is clear that virtual assistants are in their embryonic stage.
Microsoft’s future actions in this domain are uncertain, but the company is likely to continue innovating in the virtual assistant field in the upcoming years.