Microsoft has been busy reorganizing its internal teams over the past several months, starting with a major shakeup of its leadership teams and continuing with further – albeit smaller – shifts. According to new reports from both Petri and ZDNet, Microsoft’s latest target as part of these internal moves is Cortana, which is said to be now under the purview of the Experiences & Devices and Office teams.
The move would shift Cortana out of its current home as part of the AI + Research team, under the guidance of Executive Vice President Harry Shum.
From Brad Sams, reporting for Petri:
At this time, the charter for Cortana isn’t clear internally and the dust hasn’t even started to settle on this announcement but understand that going forward, Microsoft is significantly changing the way it thinks about and utilizes Cortana.
This largely aligns with what my colleague, Windows Central Senior Editor Zac Bowden, reported earlier this year, noting that Microsoft’s view of Cortana has gradually shifted as the digital assistant has fallen behind the likes of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant in recent years. Rather than seeing Cortana as a standalone assistant, Microsoft is repurposing much of the work it has done with Cortana by leveraging the assistant’s AI backbone across its services.
Microsoft’s end goal here is to integrate Cortana into Windows 10 seamlessly so that users don’t even know they’re using the assistant. This is where the “productivity” aspect of this repositioning comes in. Cortana can keep you being productive by sharing activities across devices with Timeline and “Pick up where you left off,” sync and manage notifications across devices, and present things contextually.
Essentially, Cortana is being repositioned to be more of a seamless helper across Microsoft’s services, doing so in a way that you potentially won’t even realize you’re interacting with Cortana at all. What remains certain is that Cortana isn’t going anywhere, but the smarts that power the assistant will be more integrated across Windows 10 and Microsoft’s apps. Though it’s an evolution that comes as a result of Microsoft’s loss of ground to Amazon and Google in one sense, it also presents a potential opportunity to lean on everything the company has learned to make its apps and services even smarter across devices.