Microsoft in early 2021 will stop supporting the Cortana app for mobile (iOS and Android). Cortana service will be pulled from the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker in January 2021. Microsoft is shifting Cortana to be an “AI-powered assistant experience in Microsoft 365.” In other words, Microsoft’s Siri knockoff will no longer be a competitor to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
Cortana is continuing to redefine the nature of a digital assistant, with new AI-powered experiences in Microsoft 365 that are accelerating productivity to help save you time and focus on the things that matter most.
As we make this shift toward a transformational AI-powered assistant experience in Microsoft 365, we need to adjust our focus areas of innovation and development to give our customers assistance where they need it most. As a result, we are making changes to some U.S. consumer-centric features and functionalities with lower usage.
The first change is to end support for all third-party Cortana skills on September 7. Then, in early 2021, we’ll stop supporting the Cortana app for mobile (iOS and Android), because you can now manage your calendar and email, join meetings, and do so much more via our new productivity-focused experiences — like the Cortana Windows 10 experience, Cortana integration in Outlook mobile, and soon Cortana voice assistance in the Teams mobile app.
In addition, after careful consideration, we’ve decided to end support for the Cortana service integration in the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker in January 2021. We know that most of our customers primarily use the Invoke to play music because of its premium quality sound. To make sure you can keep listening to music or your favorite podcasts, we’ve worked closely with Harman Kardon to create a Bluetooth-enabled device transition plan that we hope will help ease the impact of this change.
Customers who receive a firmware update from Harman Kardon in early 2021 will still be able to continue listening to their favorite music, podcasts, and radio stations on their Invoke via Bluetooth. The firmware update will be delivered automatically to devices connected to Wi-Fi within six months of its release. Once the Invoke is updated, Cortana will no longer be accessible on the device.
Additionally, we are offering the opportunity to receive one Microsoft $50 gift card per active Invoke to the owner of the latest U.S.-based Microsoft account used to set up an Invoke speaker that sent a voice request to the Cortana service after July 31, 2019, and prior to this announcement. You can see additional details of this offer on the Invoke support page.
Also in 2021, Cortana in Surface Headphones will continue pivoting toward its mission to help customers with productivity throughout their day. While we’ll be removing support for the previous version of Cortana in the first version of Surface Headphones, you’ll still be able to use both versions of Surface Headphones, as well as the new Surface Earbuds, to tap into Cortana via Outlook mobile to manage your inbox and schedule with the Play My Emails feature. Owners of first-generation Surface Headphones can learn more about a Microsoft gift card program on our support page.
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking through this transition and understand that these changes may be disruptive to some of our customers. We look forward to continuing to innovate on ways Cortana can help you navigate the modern workplace so you can save time and focus on the things that matter most in your day.
MacDailyNews Take: In effect, Microsoft knifed their own baby.