In a significant move to realign its AI strategy, Microsoft has announced the retirement of its standalone digital assistant Cortana from Windows later this year. Unveiled in a recent support page, this decision marks a key shift in Microsoft's approach towards AI-powered tools.
Brought to life on Windows 10 in 2015, Cortana was Microsoft's response to the burgeoning demand for voice-enabled digital assistants. Offering features such as setting reminders, launching applications, and answering queries, Cortana initially enjoyed a prime spot on the user's taskbar. However, in a rapidly evolving tech landscape, Microsoft has gradually been de-emphasizing Cortana. This was evident with Windows 11, where Cortana's prominence in the user's taskbar was dialed down, and it vanished from the initial boot-up experience.
Earlier in the year, at its Build conference, Microsoft introduced a new AI tool dubbed Windows Copilot. This tool, slated to reside in the taskbar, is designed to accomplish tasks previously performed by Cortana - and more. From summarizing content and rephrasing text to handling queries and tweaking computer settings, Copilot signals a significant leap in AI-enabled assistance.
The decision to retire Cortana is further underscored by the company's 2020 move to shut down Cortana's iOS and Android apps and withdraw support for Cortana from its Surface headphones and other devices.
Although Cortana's standalone app is bidding goodbye to Windows, Microsoft assures users that the digital assistant will continue to serve in Outlook mobile, Microsoft Teams mobile, Teams display, and Teams rooms. The longevity of this service, however, remains uncertain amidst Microsoft's growing commitment to its suite of AI tools like Bing chatbot and Microsoft 365 Copilot.
The timeline for Cortana's complete departure from Windows isn't yet clarified, but one thing is evident - the tech giant is evolving and investing in a new generation of AI-powered tools to ensure enhanced user experience.