Cortana will remain available outside of Windows, in Microsoft apps such as Outlook mobile and Teams.
Microsoft is sunsetting its virtual assistant service Cortana after stopping support for the app on Windows in a broader push towards generative AI tools.
The company had recently announced that it will stop support for Cortana starting August 2023, when it assured users that they can still access AI-powered productivity features in Windows and Edge in the assistant’s absence.
“This means you can still get help with your tasks, calendar and email, but in new and exciting ways,” a statement from Microsoft reads. “This change only impacts Cortana in Windows and your productivity assistant, Cortana, will continue to be available in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display and Microsoft Teams rooms.”
One of the biggest features of Cortana was the ability to use voice commands to instruct the assistant on intended tasks. To replace this feature in Cortana’s absence, Microsoft said it has released a new voice access feature that “lets you control your PC and write text using your voice”.
Users can avail of the voice access feature – which also works offline – to open and switch between apps, browse the web, and read and write emails. For more complex questions, there’s Bing AI, which crossed 100m daily users in March and is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
There are also new Copilot features for both Windows and Microsoft 365 to enhance user productivity and providing more centralised AI assistance. “We are excited to keep innovating and using AI to help you work smarter and faster,” the statement went on.
Ever since the race to make the best generative AI tools started, Microsoft has been investing billions into OpenAI to develop novel models and advance AI research. It even enjoyed a strong earnings call for the third quarter of its fiscal year, riding on an AI wave.
In a statement at the time, Microsoft’s chair and CEO, Satya Nadella, spoke about advanced AI models and “a new era of computing”, suggesting the company’s investment in ChatGPT and generative AI as the reason for the strong results.
“Across the Microsoft Cloud, we are the platform of choice to help customers get the most value out of their digital spend and innovate for this next generation of AI,” he said.
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