Microsoft is reportedly undergoing another reshuffle. In March, the company split up the Windows and Devices group and formed two new engineering teams. Cortana slotted into the AI + Research team, but that appears to be changing.
According to ZDNet, the digital assistant is moving to Experiences & Devices. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the change, with Petri’s Brad Sams adding that Cortana will be “nested inside of Office”.
Sams says the Office team has been pressuring AI head Harry Shum to move the assistant under its umbrella for some time. It’s clear that Microsoft is a little unclear about the future of its product, but it knows it wants to move away from the assistant idea.
Instead, the company is looking at Cortana as a sort of productivity aid. Rather than a standalone product, she’ll help users with their work, surface relevant information, and more.
Bing for Business and Microsoft News
As a result, this move makes a lot of sense. Microsoft simply can’t compete with Alexa or Google Assistant due to its lack of dedicated hardware. Instead, it wants to stick to its strengths, and the Office suite is one of them.
The Experiences & Devices team works on the Surface line, but also further integrations between Windows and Office 365. That seems to signal that we could see direct Cortana integration in Office at some point.
Of course, the specifics behind the move haven’t been confirmed by Microsoft. However, both ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley and Sams are known to have strong sources inside the company.
In fact, Foley says this is part of a wider movement of some research projects to the product groups. Bing for Business is one example, apparently moving to Experiences & Devices. Meanwhile, Microsoft News may be part of the research team.
Microsoft declined to comment on how many employees will move and what projects are affected. However, sources say that CVP Javier Soltero will remain head of Cortana under its new division.
Ultimately, this isn’t the sweeping reshuffle we saw before, but it does give some insight. There will be worries that this will be the ‘death’ of Cortana, but the truth is that she’ll be working behind the scenes to enable a lot of functionalities.