Microsoft Cortana Ends Music and Smart Home Support as Enterprise Shift Continues
Microsoft is updating Cortana to further the voice assistant’s shift to an enterprise tool. The new version of Cortana will roll out as part of a more substantial update to Windows 10 this spring.
The updated Cortana will no longer be integrated into the taskbar of Windows 10. Instead, it will be a standalone app that users can access by voice or by typing into a chat bar. As for the functionality, the new Cortana will integrate calendars and give reminders and information about upcoming meetings. The assistant will also read emails in connected inboxes, and users can pull contacts, send messages, and create notes by voice command.
The update and additions are tied to Microsoft 365, and the company is making a point of filtering all of Cortana’s features through that service. Whether that will mean excluding integration with Google and other company apps have not been announced. Requiring logging in with a Microsoft account boosts security, according to the company, but it does mean the end of Cortana support for other features.
“The upcoming update to Windows 10 will include access to a new Cortana experience with an emphasis on productivity, helping you quickly find the information you want across Microsoft 365,” Cortana corporate vice president Andrew Shuman wrote in a blog post about the update. “Some consumer skills, including music, connected home and third-party skills will no longer be available in the updated Cortana experience in Windows 10.”
The announcement carries on the shift in Cortana that began in 2018 when Microsoft launched the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise. Since then, the company started setting up the end of the Cortana app for Android and iOS everywhere except the U.S., where its usefulness for experimentation and support for the Surface Headphones is keeping it alive. The blog post also revealed that Cortana will leave the Microsoft Launcher on Android by May.
Instead, Cortana has been made part of Office 365 in a few new ways. Microsoft integrated the assistant into the Outlook app, and Cortana will be a central selling point of the new Surface Earbuds, expected to arrive in the spring around when the latest Windows 10 comes out. The earbuds cost $250, more than many competitors, but offer direct compatibility with Office 365 via Cortana. The new announcement confirms the shape of Microsoft’s ambitions for Cortana.