Wit the next Windows 10 update, Microsoft is preparing to make major changes to its virtual assistant Cortana, stripping away its smart home skills and transforming it into something that's less like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa, and more of a productivity tool.
As Ars Technica (opens in new tab) reports, the newly pared-back Cortana is expected to arrive with the launch of Windows 10 20H1, which will be the operating system's first major update this year. Microsoft has yet to announce when this will begin rolling out, but we're expecting it to be within the next few months.
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The update will also put strict limitations on who can use Cortana, so only users who are logged into a Microsoft online account, or a school or work account will have access. If you only use a local Windows 10 account, you'll be out of luck.
Not so smart now
In a blog post announcing the update (opens in new tab), corporate vice president of Cortana Andrew Shuman explained that Cortana's focus is becoming narrower, and focusing more on search and productivity.
"The new Cortana experience in Windows 10 features a chat-based UI that gives you the ability to interact with Cortana using your voice or the keyboard," Shuman said.
"For English (United States) users, Cortana will assist you in better managing your schedule and tasks by staying on top of your calendar and focusing on what matters with meeting insights. You can speak or type requests to find people or files, or quickly create or query emails. You can also easily check your calendar, set a reminder, or add to your lists in Microsoft To Do."
While these features sound interesting, they'll only be available to users in the US at first. If you live elsewhere, Cortana will only be able to perform searches using Bing and 'chat' to you until an unspecified time in the future.
If you currently use Cortana to control your smart home devices, there is at least some good news: Microsoft has confirmed to ZDNet (opens in new tab) that you'll still be able to manage your lights and music with the Cortana apps for iOS and Android (for the time being).