It’s no secret that Microsoft’s digital assistant is struggling. While Google and Amazon continue to launch smart speakers and connections to hundreds of services, Cortana sits on Windows desktops as a glorified search bar.
Wall Street Journal says the company is looking to change that. Microsoft vice president David Ku told that paper that he’s looking to get users utilizing Cortana when they’re away from the PC.
It’s a vague statement and Ku did little to elaborate. He mentioned using Cortana in the car as an example but gave no additional details. Nissan and BMW announced plans to integrate the assistant in their vehicles in 2017, and the recent mobile apps mean you can access her pretty much anywhere.
Still, the elephant in the room is smart devices. The Harmon Kardon Invoke is the only major Cortana speaker in the U.S., and some believe this is further evidence of a first-party release.
First-Party Smart Speaker Inbound?
However, it’s worth noting that previous reports are conflicting. Cortana head Javier Soltero admitted earlier in the year that Microsoft is moving away from the idea of a personal assistant. Instead, it wants to use her to aid during tasks, with rumors suggesting a productivity focus.
It’s essentially an admission that the digital assistant probably won’t catch up in its integrations. While Alexa can connect to dozen’s of different smart home devices, Cortana is fairly rudimentary. Many use smart speakers to control lighting and music, and Microsoft axed its music service last year. There’s little it would be able to offer that its competitors don’t.
Thankfully, a recent survey suggests that while consumers aren’t that interested in Cortana, businesses might be. It’s likely there’s a place in the market somewhere, with Microsoft able to provide Office 365 integrations and secure information storage.
Moreover, the company isn’t new to playing catch up. Though its Windows Phone failed, it’s managed to gain significant ground on Slack with Microsoft Teams. With Cortana’s upcoming Alexa integration, it could be a good choice, and reports from WinFuture suggest work on a first-party smart speaker with Quanta.
Ultimately, we’ve been unable to confirm those reports and will have to wait for official details. WSJ says Soltero will be ready to reveal his plans early this Fall, so there won’t be long to wait.