Microsoft’s Cutting Voice Assistant Cortana in Certain Markets

Come the end of January, it appears the Cortana app’s getting booted to the Microsoft assistant graveyard. At least poor Clippy will have some company now.

That’s according to a support article Microsoft posted this week, though only users in Australia, the UK, and Canada can expect to say goodbye to the voice assistant for now. Microsoft’s US site currently hosts no such message, and it’s uncertain whether the Cortana app will continue to be available to stateside Android and iOS users after the listed shutdown date, January 31st. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for clarification on the matter.

“To make your personal digital assistant as helpful as possible, we’re integrating Cortana into your Microsoft 365 productivity apps,” the note reads. “As part of this evolution, on January 31st, 2020, we’re ending support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS in your market.”

After that date, any reminders or lists users currently have on the Cortana app can be accessed through Microsoft’s free To Do app, which is automatically synced.

The move comes as no surprise. Microsoft has been gradually rolling back its focus on Cortana as a standalone voice assistant. In January, CEO Satya Nadella flat out said the company no longer considers Cortana a competitor to the likes of Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant despite a massive attempt to rebrand the voice assistant in 2018. This time last year also saw the departure of the head of Cortana, Javier Soltero, as Microsoft integrated the voice assistant from the company’s AI and Research department into its Experiences and Devices team as more of a digital aide role.

Part of what’s made this pivot possible is the company’s collaboration with another tech giant, Amazon. Microsoft welcomed its voice assistant Alexa onto its products beginning last year (and vice versa), in addition to opening its online and retail locations to Amazon products like the Echo and Echo Dot. The voice assistant has also been seeing a reduced role in Microsoft’s overall ecosystem. Earlier this year, the company announced it would be disabling Cortana’s help by default during certain installations of Windows 10. They later dropped it from the search bar entirely.

Man, hearing Cortana is getting the ax after barely five years is so sad. Alexa, go ahead: Hit it.

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