Cortana is finally getting the boot by Microsoft in favor of an actual AI

If you recently updated Windows 11, you may have spotted the following message when trying to open the Cortana app: “Cortana in Windows as a standalone app is deprecated.”

Microsoft is finally cutting off support to Cortana, its Windows Phone-era assistant that first launched with Windows 10 back in 2014, in favor of AI features like Bing Search and Windows Copilot. Cortana was released in response to Apple’s Siri, which had been growing in popularity since its own debut. Microsoft even released a playful commercial poking fun at Siri’s more robotic voice while promoting how human-sounding Cortana was,

But thanks to this update, Siri has outlasted Microsoft’s robotic assistant. Here's the official post from Microsoft: “We are making some changes to Windows that will impact users of the Cortana app. Starting in August 2023, we will no longer support Cortana in Windows as a standalone app.” And for those asking for an assistance program, Microsoft is recommending Windows Copilot which is set to release with the Windows 11 23H2 update. The tech giant has already been testing out first-party and Bing third-party plugins for Copilot.

The app is still working on Windows 10 for now but, according to a source from Windows Latest, Microsoft plans to kill off the app on Windows 10 within a few weeks. For now, Cortana will remain with other apps like Outlook and Microsoft Teams, though it mostly likely won’t be permanent.

Should Microsoft have canned Cortana? 

It’s rather ironic that Cortana, which was made as a fake AI assistant of sorts based on the iconic one that aids Master Chief in the long-running video game franchise Halo series, is getting ousted by actual AI tools. But considering how AI has skyrocketed in popularity and in growth potential, it makes sense that Microsoft would completely drop app support that hasn’t received an update in two years.

But was this the right move for Microsoft? On one hand, it feels obvious to dump tools that haven’t been supported for so long. But maybe there could have been a way to integrate Cortana with AI technology to create a more personalized AI assistant experience. Imagine having Cortana combined with Bing search or Windows Copilot, giving you your results and aiding you.

Of course, this opens up a huge can of worms in regards to using the voice actress Jen Taylor's audio likeness in ways that were never covered by her original contract with Microsoft. Ethically she would need to give her consent and be paid royalties for that purpose.

But with Microsoft officially closing the chapter on Cortana, we’ll never know what could have been.

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The line is blurring between Microsoft Teams and actual phone calls

Your Microsoft Teams calls are set to see a significant boost thanks to a partnership between the company and some of the world's leading mobile operators.

The software giant has announced the launch of Operator Connect Mobile, a new service that will utilize the network footprint of existing operators to make sure Microsoft Teams Phone calls are more reliable and flexible than ever before.

Among other things, the new launch means that users can have a single business-provided number for mobile, desk, and Microsoft Teams, allowing them to work flexibly and securely from any location, device, or network.

Microsoft Teams Phone boost

Microsoft has signed up the likes of BT, Verizon, Swisscom, Telia and Rogers to support the launch later in 2022, providing what it calls “true fixed-mobile convergence”.

This should mean that mobile calls can be prioritized on the cellular voice network or internet connection for better call continuity and quality of service, with users also able to seamlessly move between devices and Teams endpoints without dropping calls.

An expansion on the company's hugely successful online collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams Phone combines VoIP and video conferencing services to allow users to make and receive phone calls within the software.

The platform styles itself as an all-in-one app that enables rich, reliable, and secure calling, offering services such as conferencing, do not disturb, reverse number lookup, voicemail, and delegation functionality.

The company claims that Microsoft Teams Phone has around 80 million active users across the globe, helping narrow the gap between home and office as more organizations embrace hybrid working.

It now hopes that Operator Connect Mobile will help grow this number, allowing organizations to combine their user's mobile identities with the existing Microsoft Teams and Office 365 cloud tools.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone for true fixed-mobile convergence,” Microsoft noted in a blog post announcing the news. ” Operator Connect mobile is a first-of-its-kind fixed-mobile convergence that’s intuitive, device agnostic, and enterprise compliant.”

“Operator Connect Mobile enables new opportunities for flexibility, efficiency, security, and compliance, which is particularly relevant in the new hybrid workplace. And as we continue to expand the functionality, the lines between voice calls and meetings, mobile and Wi-Fi networks, mobile and desktop devices, and office and field settings will continue to blur. This is the promise of organizational mobility, and it’s made possible with Operator Connect Mobile.”

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest figures from the company showing that the service now boasts over 270 million monthly active users.

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