Last week we reported on Microsoft's plans to shift Cortana from a personal assistant to a productivity assistant. While that may be different/deeper integration in Windows 10, on Xbox One (a fully consumer-focused platform), it seems Cortana may be getting phased out.
According to Windows Central, Microsoft is now inviting Amazon's, Alexa and Google Assistant to Xbox. We already know Microsoft has been getting closer to Alexa in recent months. The company announced a partnership with Amazon that will integrate Alexa into Cortana and vice versa.
At the time, Microsoft sold that collaboration as an open development that was essential to drive forward the growth of voice assistants. However, it is increasingly looking like Microsoft is adopting Alexa across its services and putting Cortana in the back seat.
While Microsoft committed to Cortana earlier this year, the company has conceded defeat in the smart speaker market. Many users still associate voice assistants with mobile devices, but dedicated hardware is the future of the technology. Amazon with Echo and to a lesser extent Google with Home are leading that market.
It seems 2018 will be a make or break for Cortana. Indeed, Microsoft is moving towards needing to decide between going all in with the assistant or simply killing it off. Going all in could mean aggressive integration in Microsoft services, even to the extent of forcing users to use Cortana for some functions.
We are also amazed that Cortana is still not widely available outside of the United States. Reaching a global market is essential for any connected cross-platform service.
Of course, those things are very unlikely to happen, so it seems inevitable that Cortana will become a smaller service or even disappear entirely.