Microsoft has discontinued the standalone Cortana app on Windows 11. If you have the app installed on your PC, a recent update will display a message informing you that it is now deprecated (source: Windows Latest).
In June, Microsoft announced that it would stop supporting Cortana as a standalone app in Windows 11 and Windows 10 by “late 2023.” However, the discontinuation has occurred earlier than expected. While the Cortana app may no longer function on Windows 11, Cortana is still available as a “productivity assistant” in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams displays, and Microsoft Teams rooms.
Cortana was initially launched on Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 and later introduced to Windows 10 PCs. Unfortunately, it struggled to gain the same popularity as Alexa or the Google Assistant. Apart from the Harman Kardon Invoke, there was little interest from third-party manufacturers in incorporating Cortana into their products.
In recent years, Microsoft attempted to position Cortana as a productivity tool, but its decline was inevitable. Despite the discontinuation of support for Cortana on Windows, Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, stated at CES earlier this year that AI would “reinvent how you do everything on Windows.” This vision is becoming a reality with Microsoft’s development of various “Copilot” products, leveraging OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology.
Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced a viable alternative to ChatGPT with its Bing chatbot, which is integrated into the company’s Edge browser. Furthermore, the upcoming Windows 11 version 23H2 is expected to introduce Windows Copilot, an AI assistant that promises to be more useful than Cortana ever was. While it may not incorporate voice-based interaction like other assistants, Cortana often fell short by relying heavily on search results when users’ inquiries were unclear.
Currently available in preview for Insiders on the Dev Channel, Windows Copilot has begun rolling out to a select group of Beta Channel testers. It is currently a web-based experience that relies on Microsoft Edge, but future support for third-party plugins will offer further enhancements. By working with OpenAI to establish an open standard for plugins, Microsoft aims to prevent a repeat of the situation where developers primarily focus on building skills for competing AI assistants from Amazon and Google.