Microsoft’s Cortana assistant is reportedly becoming more of an assistance aide than a standalone service, being moved from Microsoft’s AI + Research department to its Experiences & Devices Team and working with Amazon to pair it with the latter company’s Alexa technology. Now, per Engadget, Microsoft seems to be encouraging customers to just buy Alexa-powered tech like the recently released Echo Dot and regular Echo and use Cortana through it.
Per Engadget, Twitter user Walking Cat and others noticed that both devices appear to be listed for sale in Microsoft’s online and retail locations. The site wrote that the tech giant appears to have conceded that most smart assistant users are going to use Alexa, not the notably less versatile Cortana, for routine purposes:
Where Microsoft originally pitched Cortana as a direct competitor to other mainstream voice assistants, it has shifted the AI helper’s focus toward chatbots and behind-the-scene tasks that are more useful to the corporate crowd than home users. The VP in charge of Cortana, Javier Soltero, is reportedly leaving Microsoft as the company moves its assistant from its AI team to its Experiences and Devices group. For now, Alexa appears to be Microsoft’s voice assistant of choice for everyday users.
As the Verge noted, Microsoft has been pivoting to uses for Cortana like smart chat bots for customer support, and it’s been retooling the way search functions in Windows 10 to have less of an emphasis on Cortana. Additionally, Slashgear noted that the partnership with Amazon also includes features like Skype calls via Alexa devices.
With Cortana now seemingly less of a priority for Microsoft, that leaves three major players in the voice assistant market: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. That’s not to say things are going flawlessly for everyone: Siri is the dumbest of all of them, with recent times it’s popped up in the news including erroneously announcing comics legend Stan Lee’s death and activating during a UK Parliament hearing on Syria. As for Alexa, no one seems to actually be using it to buy stuff, as its makers intended.