The era of Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant app, is drawing to a close as the tech giant shifts its focus towards more advanced AI technologies. This transition, beginning in August 2023, was confirmed on a support page, marking the end of Cortana as a standalone app in Windows. Microsoft’s pivot towards AI is evident in its recent developments, such as Bing Chat, a ChatGPT-like feature, and other AI-powered productivity enhancements across Windows and its web browser, Edge.
While the company has remained tight-lipped about the reasons behind this shift, it’s clear that Cortana served as a crucial stepping stone toward this new AI-driven future. The company’s partnership with OpenAI is set to power a smarter chatbot running on GPT-4, replacing the need for Cortana. This new AI experience, announced in May, will be integrated directly into Windows 11. During this transitional period, Cortana will continue to exist in some form, albeit without support for the standalone Windows app.
For the time being, Cortana will remain accessible in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display, and Microsoft Teams rooms. However, these Cortana-powered experiences may also be short-lived. Microsoft has outlined its plans to introduce Bing Chat to the enterprise sector, integrating Microsoft 365 Copilot into its productivity software, Outlook, Teams, and more. Microsoft acknowledges the impact of this change on Windows users and aims to facilitate a smooth transition to new alternatives. These include Windows 11 voice access, which enables users to control their PC with voice commands, the new AI-powered Bing, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Windows Copilot, which provides centralized AI assistance for Windows users.
The news of Cortana’s shutdown was first reported by Windows Latest, an independent website. They noticed that the latest update for the Cortana Windows app rendered the app non-functional, with a message informing users of the app’s deprecation. Microsoft’s shift from Cortana to Bing Chat could potentially set a trend for other tech giants. Amazon, for instance, recently promoted its head scientist for Alexa, Rohit Prasad, to lead a team developing artificial general intelligence. This move suggests that Amazon might be considering an evolution for Alexa, transforming it into a more capable digital assistant.
Apple, too, is reportedly developing its own generative AI tools, although their deployment to customers remains undecided.