Today seems to be a day for almost forgotten voice assistants. Samsung has just launched a Marketplace for Bixby Capsules, a.k.a. skills, suggesting there is indeed a market for that. Now Microsoft seems to be moving to decouple Cortana from its Windows 10 operating system. A beta version of a standalone Cortana app has appeared on the Microsoft Store and if the speculation is correct, this could actually help improve Cortana’s visibility and usefulness.
At first, it may look like Microsoft is actually demoting Cortana from being a built-in Windows 10 feature into an add-on. There is indeed an advantage to being part of the core OS installation in that it’s right there from the get-go. Unfortunately, that also means that Cortana updates are tied to Windows updates.
This decoupling strategy has actually been employed by Android OEMs a few years ago. Instead of baking their own apps into the system image, they put it up on Google Play Store and update them separately and with faster iterations. In theory, this could also be the fate that awaits Cortana on Windows.
At the moment, the Cortana Beta entry on the Microsoft Store doesn’t say or show much that we don’t know already. There is no word yet on when the ties that bind Windows 10 and Cortana together will finally be severed. Probably when it loses the “Beta” tag.
Of course, just because it can update Cortana faster doesn’t mean it will. It also doesn’t mean that there will be a resurgence of interest in Microsoft’s AI assistant which has practically throw in the towel in the competition against Alexa and Google Assistant.