Microsoft seems to be giving up on its ambitions to dominate the voice-powered virtual assistant arena and will reportedly be focusing on building Cortana as a skill for the competing platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. According to an online report, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella earlier this week revealed to select journalists that the company is looking for a major shift in its Cortana strategy. Cortana is a voice-powered virtual assistant that was introduced back in 2014 for Windows Phone devices. It later was released for Windows 10 and other platforms.
According to a report in Business Insider, Microsoft will no longer attempt to compete with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant with its Cortana virtual assistant. The company will instead develop the digital assistant as an app or skill for other platforms. The Redmond-based company already has a tie-up Amazon to offer Cortana as a skill on Alexa. It seems, with the Amazon deal that was announced last year, the company was testing the waters and tracking the overall smart speaker and voice-powered digital assistant space. After being unable to gain meaningful traction, the company is being realistic.
"Would it be better off, for example, to make Cortana a valuable skill that someone who is using Alexa can call? Or should we try to compete with Alexa? We, quite frankly, decided that we would do the former. Because Cortana needs to be that skill for anyone who is a Microsoft Office 365 subscriber," Nadella told journalists at the event.
Microsoft now wants to take Cortana to Google Assistant. Although the company currently doesn't have a partnership with Google, but it is actively planning to take Cortana to the search giant's digital assistant.
"And you should also be able to use [Cortana] on Google Assistant. You should be able to use it on Alexa, just like you use our apps on Android or iOS. So that's at least how we want to go," Nadella added.
Business Insider notes that the Microsoft CEO saw the current smart speaker market and realised that if the company entered the segment, it will end up become an “also-ran” and he would rather go for a different strategy. This lines up with the company overall strategy under the leadership of Nadella, in which the company is embracing the competing platforms.
Microsoft will now double down Cortana's integrations with Office 365 suite. Office 365 is a major source of revenue for Microsoft and it makes sense to keep it up-to-date with the new technologies.
Meanwhile, Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it is separating Search and Cortana in the taskbar on Windows 10 devices. Clicking on the search box on the taskbar will now offer an independent search experience rather than a bundled Cortana and Search experience. The Cortana and Search settings are also getting decoupled. These changes are currently limited to the Insider Preview build of Windows 10 but will reach the final version in the coming weeks.