As companies were jumping on the digital assistant bandwagon, Microsoft launched its own alternative: Cortana. It proved to be plenty helpful, but Google‘s and Amazon‘s dominance in this regard (across platforms, and Siri on iOS) forced Microsoft to make some tough decisions.
While the company did not decide to get rid of Cortana altogether, it has trimmed back the digital assistant’s capabilities and features, and, as a result, made it a more focused addition to Windows 10 and Microsoft 365. And the trimming continues today, with Microsoft officially announcing (via The Verge) that it is going to end support for Cortana on mobile devices — both iOS and Android — beginning in “early 2021”.
It goes beyond that, though. Microsoft’s continued shift in where it wants Cortana to be, and what Cortana can do, means it’s axing support for another device: the Harman Kardon Invoke “smart” speaker. Microsoft says Cortana support in the speaker will end in January of 2021. This will effectively remove the smarts from the smart speaker, and turn it into a pretty basic Bluetooth-enabled speaker, which is not great, all things considered.
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.
However, Microsoft is going to help ease the pain for owners by giving them a $50 gift card. So hopefully that helps. Check out the support page for more information in that regard.
One more: the original Surface headphones have Cortana built into the hardware, making it easy to call upon the digital assistant. However, Microsoft is ending support here, too. This will happen in 2021, and a firmware update will effectively remove Cortana from the headphones. Microsoft has a support page for this, too, and the company says it will provide a $25 gift card for owners of the original Surface Headphones.
This isn’t too surprising, and yet it might not be great news for people who actually use Cortana. The good news is that the digital assistant still lives in Microsoft 365 services like Outlook and more.
If you tried out Cortana in its heyday, did you like the digital assistant? Let us know!