Redmon-based tech giant, Microsoft seems like it will be giving up on its ambitions of dominating the voice-powered virtual assistant arena and will apparently focus on building Cortana as a skill for their competing platforms such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. An online report suggested that the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, earlier during the week revealed to a group of selected journalists that Microsoft has been looking to make a major shift in their Cortana strategy. Cortana is a voice-powered virtual assistant which was introduced back in 2014 for Windows Phone devices. It was later released for Windows 10 and other platforms as well.
A report from the Business Insider stated that Microsoft would no longer attempt to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant with their Cortana virtual assistant. Instead, they would focus on developing the digital assistant as an app or skill for other competing platforms. It has already made a tie-up with Amazon to offer Cortana as a skill on Alexa. It looks like the Amazon deal was announced last year, but the company has been testing the waters and tracking their overall smart speaker and voice-powered digital assistant space. After they were unable to gain meaningful traction, they have become reality.
During the event, Nadella told the journalists- “Would it be better off, for example, to make Cortana a valuable skill which can be called by someone who uses Alexa? Or should we try to compete with Alexa? We, quite frankly, have decided that we would do the former. Because Cortana needs to be that particular skill for any person who is a Microsoft Office 365 subscriber. And you should also be able to use [Cortana] on Google Assistant. You should be able to use it on Alexa, just like you use our other apps on Android or iOS. So that is at least how we want things to go.“
Microsoft also wishes to take Cortana on to Google Assistant. The company, for now, doesn’t have any sort of partnership with Google but has been actively seeking and planning to take Cortana to the search giant’s digital assistant.
Business Insider also noted that the CEO observed the current smart speaker market and realized that if their company entered that segment, it will end up being an “also-ran” whereas he would prefer using a different strategy. This stays in lines with the company’s overall strategies under the leadership of Nadella, wherein the company has embraced the competing platforms.
Microsoft will soon double down their Cortana’s integrations with Office 365 suite. Office 365 has been a major source of revenue for Microsoft and this move makes much sense to keep it up-to-date with the new technologies.
On the other hand, On Wednesday, Microsoft announced its plans of separating Search and Cortana in the taskbar on Windows 10 devices. Now on, clicking on the search box on the taskbar will offer an independent search experience instead of the old bundled Cortana and Search experience. The Cortana and Search settings will be decoupled. These changes have been currently limited to the Insider Preview build of Windows 10 but it is soon reaching the final version in the coming weeks.