CORTANA HAS had a bit of a bum deal. When Microsoft first launched its digital assistant, Windows Phone was still a thing and Alexa hadn't cornered the market yet.
Since then, Microsoft has been putting a brave face on it, but given that the original plan was to create an omnipotent network out of your existing devices, the whole thing has become a bit of a damp squib.
In the latest version of Windows 10 (1903), Cortana has been moved to a separate icon in the taskbar, and now it seems the next stage of its transmogrification into an optional extra has arrived.
Cortana has been given a separate listing in the Microsoft Store (US only as far as we can tell) for the first time, suggesting that decoupling it from the search function is just the beginning of its journey. There's the option to ditch it altogether in favour of Alexa, which is also available for the platform, or best of all, not have a virtual assistant at all, which sounds blissful to us.
Exactly what all this means for Cortana's baked-in version isn't clear, but we'd take a fair bet that once the Fall Update (due in October) starts testing amongst the Insider Programme, it'll give us a clearer picture of what the future of Cortana looks like. It should already be available but for some reason, it's being held back.
Cortana was always designed to run independently, so the version on the Store won't be that different to what you're used to, the difference is that it won't be hard-baked and very difficult to shut up, like so many gobshite Clippys.
Cortana has always had a more business-y feel to it than any of its rivals but has still failed to find a proper niche as Google, Siri and Alexa are all now capable of much of the functionality that was Cortana's speciality. μ
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