Hey Cortana, why do you exist?

Jcmg62

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Seriously. Why?

Whatever roadmap Microsoft has chosen for Cortana, for now, it's an utterly pointless application that adds zero value to the Windows user experience.

It's journey, from hyped release in 2014 to total stagnation and decay in 2018, has been a miserable road to follow.

I appreciate that this is not a new problem. Cortana has been pointless for at least a year now. But, the reality of how bad it's become was really driven home to me recently, when I was asked to set up a new laptop.

I asked the guy if he'd like me to set up Cortana. He said, "what's that?" I gave him a quick overview and he asked "Is it useful?"

I almost automatically responded with "yes, it's useful" but stopped mid-sentence, because honestly, I couldn't think of a single reason for setting up Cortana on a new laptop.

The whole experience prompted me to go back to my laptop and take a look at my own Cortana user experience.

Over the years I've set up every conceivable Cortana skill. Flights, traffic, stocks and shares, news, weather, sports. You name it, I've used it.

As soon as it became available, I connected my LinkedIn, outlook and office 365 accounts to Cortana.

None of it works. Nothing at all.

I can't quite remember when it stopped working, and frankly, it was never great to begin with.

For example, connecting user accounts like Outlook and LinkedIn was pointless. Cortana has full access to those accounts, but doesn't send me any notifications. Pointless.

In the 4 years I've been using Cortana, I never received a single notification regarding flight or parcel tracking, despite setting it up to do so.

I can't remember the last time I received a weather alert.

I used to be able to see notifications regarding stock prices and news alerts, but this service stopped a while back.

Why is Cortana still around?
 

etphoto

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Cortana was born because of mobile. When mobile died Cortana got sick and still hasn't really recovered. No real reason to have Cortana on a laptop or desktop, with my usage at least.

Sent from mTalk
 
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Ryujingt3

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Cortana is yet another example of an MS product that, at first they rallied around and proclaimed it the best thing ever. Now that its not taking off as expected and is being overtaken by rival products, Cortana has been quietly swept to the sidelines and is now just another product MS had to remarket to reaffirm the product is still relevant when they are losing out to rival products.
 

wpcautobot

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I get flight status and info all the time with Cortana. Package information, time to leave for an appointment, including embedded link for directions... All that. While I agree it's a disappointment and has a history repeating Microsoft led stagnation, I have no idea why all that stuff you list doesn't work for you. It works great in many ways... For me.
 

ryanlrobinson

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Cortana reminds of things I'll say I'll do from my email, so that's one thing that does work from it being connected to my Office365/Outlook. Although in that case I rarely need it because I do a pretty good job of keeping track of my own to-do lists.

Otherwise... I used it to set a timer baking the other day? I sometimes use it to get public transit directions home and I can't read the screen on my HP Elite x3 in the sun? I tried to use it for reminders a few times but I just find it messy to decide between Cortana, To-Do, or Planner.

If I was in the U.S. I would definitely use it for things like package and flight tracking, but those aren't available here. I sometimes use it for smart home control (I set it to U.S. even though I'm in Canada), but I mostly have better ways to do that with apps and IFTTT.

I definitely think its potential will be more in business processes, like scheduling meetings for you. Once I get an Android I'm expecting to use Google Assistant for most of my personal stuff (home automation, mapping, timers, etc), but I do hope Cortana can be my business assistant thanks to all of its connections into Office365.
 

TechnoMax

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To be true, I even did not know how bad it is going for Cortana. I never used it for my self and never installed it for sombody else. And probably will not use it in the future either.
 

Muskatnuss

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Same reason I don't use Siri, Google, Alexa, whatever. It's completely useless to me, and slower than typing things down manually.

It's also utterly rubbish if you live outside of the US, and not just Cortana but everything mentioned above.
 

GraniteStateColin

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I use Cortana for a few things, in order of decreasing frequency:

1. To turn on and off my entertainment system by voice control, before I sit down and instead of using multiple remotes. I just say, "Hey Cortana, Turn on" when I walk into our room. This is through the Xbox One X (using the Kinect that came with the original Xbox One). Or I might shout at her from the kitchen if the kids left the TV on, "Hey Cortana, turn off," then, "Yes" in response to her confirmation question.

2. To do things with audio on my Windows PC when it's locked. I can tell her to play different apps, bands, or mute the sound.

3. On my Windows Phone for place-based reminders: "Hey Cortana, remind me to get milk when I leave work." I still think it's just awesome that it's possible to do GPS-based alarms.

3. Occasionally to ask a question when I can't easily swipe it into my phone. "Hey Cortana, what is..."

I certainly wouldn't want to lose any of those capabilities, but only #1 and #3 are really important to me and make my life noticeably better.
 

Scott McBurney

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I've been using Cortana for a while now. Whether it is from my phone, my Invoke speaker, my xbox one, or any of my computers, I actually do use it some. What I have found is that it has potential. It is great for simple tasks - adding items to lists that I can view on my phone, playing music or making skype calls on the invoke, turning on and off my lights at home, adding quick reminders for later, getting weather or other information.

I love the fact that I can just talk to it and it responds - on the invoke, the xbox, or my desktop at work. Or on my phone or laptop, I just tap a button to talk to Cortana (I don't want those to be automatic).

There are a few things I don't like about Cortana - first and foremost is inconsistency - the functionality on the Invoke is different from the Xbox, which is different from the PC or my phone. It should be much more consistent across devices. For example, if I tell the invoke to play a local radio station, it loads tune in and goes to the station. On the xbox, even though I have tune in installed, it is too stupid to understand the same request.

Second, I wish it could distinguish between voices and connect a voice to a Microsoft account - at least on the invoke and xbox. My spouse and I have separate Microsoft accounts, calendars, lists, etc, but Cortana can only connect to a single account.
 

Richard Toft

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Yep! I use Cortana Daily, Traffic and News in the morning, calls / destinations while driving (hands free of course), reminders playing music from Groove and spotify.

So I don't agree its pointless but I do agree that in 2014 Cortana was great, in fact it had more user features than today offering.
Since then there have been a slew of A.I offerings all of them offering little more than "Play me this song", "Search for ….", "Who won the super bowl in 1972" etc and none of them better than the original Cortana.

Why is this? I understand that Cortana is now working more in the background to increase productivity but I do wish MS would get back into the game and be more user interface orientated.
 

Xsled

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I loved Cortana in the early days, unfortunately due to the price and ecosystem surrounding Alexa, I have moved on. I went from using Cortana multiple times a day to maybe once a week. Once she works with Alexa that may change again, but for now Alexa serves my AI needs in a much stronger ecosystem.
 

andrewje

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When I had a Win10Mo phone I used it often to make calls and take reminders. Since being forced to switch to Android, Cortana has become pretty much useless. It's a shame because it could have a lot to offer if MS were committed to making it a success but alas they aren't. Why do I know?:

1. Pretty much US only.
2. No smart speaker / home hub outside of US.
3. Android app/integration doesn't work properly and is difficult to use.
4. No mobile platform.
 

TechaDatum

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Hands free calling and texting while I drive. Adding items to grocery list through out the week. The travel updates have stopped working and I miss those. I may need to refresh some settings. Thanks for the reminder.
 

Dusteater

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I have no way to use Cortana. I don't have a windows 10 PC. Can't use her on Xbox since they refuse to make a new Kinect or allow 3rd party webcams to work. I have 11 Echo devices in my house though, so I use Alexa constantly. Cortana is dead.
 

Jcmg62

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Two things seem to be holding Cortana back...no mobile platform to drive user numbers (not really Microsoft's fault, they tried) and only giving it useful skills in the USA (totally Microsoft's fault and whoever decided on this should be fired...then burned at the stake)
 

jbrown9100

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I accept Dan Rubino's point that Cortana has a lot of potential to be a REAL assistant. An AI beyond the gimmicky "Hey {plug in your AI}, make a fart sound" and more into "Hey Cortana, set up a meeting with my financial advisor". However, I think that where Microsoft consistently misses the mark is the underestimate the value of gimmicky to marketing and adoption. The kids that ask to make a fart sound will grow up knowing {plug in your AI} as their goto AI.
I genuinely miss my Windows phone every day because I do use Cortana on my computer, Invoke and Xbox. The Cortana experience on Android is disheartening and I fear unless Microsoft forks a version of Android and puts Cortana into the core it won't ever measure up as an app.
 

DRDiver

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We use Cortana all the time. Every one of our devices has Cortana turn on Always: Our Lumia phones, our Surface Pro's, my studio PC, our server and our Xbox. It frustrates me if I have to actually do something manually outside of productivity apps (which normally require mouse or keyboard work). In the car, Cortana is absolutely critical. And because we rely on Cortana so heavily, this is one of the many reasons Android is HORRIBLE alternative....Cortana can't do squat by comparison.
 

petrozio

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I frequently use Cortana on my Lumia 950 as well as my Surface. It works the same on all Microsoft computing devices. The form factor doesn't really impact weather or not I use her.
 

German_Hawkeye

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Ah Cortana.
1st it was a Beta in my phone but us only, also quickly changed the sttings an did amazing stuff. Then it came to Germany and did not as much, but also amazing stuff. Then on my PC where it was nothing more as a quicklink to a Bing search bar. Later it learned to alert me when to leave the house to go some places. Then came Windows 10 Mobile and on my phone it forgot nearly all usefull things it could do. But now i got a phone that could use the Hey Cortana Feature in Germany. But Cortanas skillset on the phone becomes smaller and smaller and it was harder and harder to speak natuarly to her. On the PC it could sync more with my phone notifications and alerts, but it was not very inteligent. You have a birthday reminder, and your phone rings, your PC your two Windows-tablets, heck thank god i dont have an Xbox.
Today now i turned off the Hey Cortana feature, because i did not react to the words but got on if i coffed or cleared my throat, and there is no way to turn it off via sound.
Well the sync between my phone and PC is still activ, but it gives me simply to much alerts and sometimes not enough time to react on them. It makes me more angry then it is usefull.
So Right now i say get rid off it, it simply works to poorly to be of any value in Germany.
 

Williaml99

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Since moving to android, i just have Cortana to sink messages with my PC. I use Google for my assistant on the phone. I think MS will keep the bits to use anywhere they can. That is what I would do. I don't think they have any misconceptions about it being over as far as a consumer thing.
 

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