Cortana to Be Removed from Non-U.S. App Stores, Directing Users to Microsoft 365 for Productivity Assistant

Microsoft is shutting down the Cortana app everywhere except the United States., according to an update on its support website. The voice assistant will instead be available through Microsoft 365 apps.

Expected End of Cortana Independence

The Cortana app will be removed from the Android and iOS store on January 31 outside of the U.S. and Microsoft won’t offer support for it beyond that date. Any data a user has on the app will still be accessible, but only through syncing the Cortana app with Microsoft’s To Do app.

Though the specifics of the announcement are new, Microsoft’s plan to shutter the Cortana app is no surprise. As Voicebot recommended and predicted back in 2017, Cortana makes a lot more sense as a productivity service. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been working on that approach for some time, sharing his vision earlier this year of Cortana as a productivity application for businesses, rather than as competition for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the consumer market.

Beyond Nadella, the news about Cortana has all been about a shift in focus away from consumers and toward business starting last fall, when the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise launched. Cortana’s withdrawal from consumer products continued this year, including in April when the Cortana bot was dropped from Skype and in August when the Glas smart thermostat stopped supporting Cortana. Microsoft Windows has also been slowly removing Cortana, with recent versions of Windows 10 no longer including the voice assistant, removing it from the search bar and other facets of the operating system.

Productivity Software and Hardware

The voice assistant technology is still useful, but won’t be as visible to consumers. Instead, Microsoft is continuing to grow Cortana’s presence in business and productivity apps as a part of Office 365. Most recently, the company announced that it is integrating Cortana into the Outlook app. Cortana can read emails out loud and schedule notifications by making requests to the voice assistant. The inclusion of Cortana on the iOS app also brought a new daily briefing email feature to Outlook, combining meeting summaries and relevant documents

The shift to business for Cortana even applies to Microsoft’s hardware. The new Surface Earbuds cost $250, more than most other earbuds, with the only real standout feature being compatibility with Office 365 via Cortana. The earbuds can run Office 365 through the voice assistant when connected to a PC or mobile device running Windows. That means Cortana can manage emails and users can use the voice assistant for real-time translation and commentary in presentations. Despite the end of the Cortana app, Microsoft isn’t giving up on its voice assistant, only confirming the area where it will compete.


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