Within the relatively new Microsoft business structure, when products aren’t doing well or aren’t living up to their potential, the company seems to have little problem shuffling them off to a different division or assigning a new executive to right their course.
Once again, the annual game of musical chairs Microsoft plays with its employees, products, and services is underway and this time around it looks like Cortana is being ushered to the Office team, perhaps, exclusively.
According to a report from author Brad Sams over at Petri.com, Microsoft appears to be in the early stages of an overhaul to its Artificial Intelligence and Research division. While there is speculation involving the departments executive vice president Harry Shum possibly leaving; what is certain, is that Cortana is being booted out of the division’s focus.
Instead, Cortana will now be handled by the Office team based on Sams reporting. Perhaps, from insider sources, Sams reports that the Office team has long wanted to take over the Cortana software experience, and for obvious reasons.
For some time, the Office team has been pressuring Shum to move Cortana over to their unit, especially after it became apparent that the digital AI was no longer going to be a stand-alone product. With Cortana now fully inside of Office, expect the assistant to gain new features related to the productivity suite but I also believe that Cortana will simply become another tool for Office, rather than it’s own product.
Prognosticating on the news, it seems Microsoft may not be ready to give its AI efforts a digital figure just yet, or that it sees the market for consumer-facing digital assistants as too crowded.
Rather, it seems Microsoft sees more user value in Cortana being a better-integrated version of its Clippy concept from Office products of old; offering voice, visual and text-based assistance in searching Office documents, making appointments in calendars, or assisting with setting up Skype-enabled conference calls.
Sams doesn’t have the full picture just yet, and we can probably expect to see more news trickle out about the reorg ahead of Microsoft’s next quarterly earnings report as the company has undergone similar shake-ups before its reports.