Microsoft’s Cortana will soon be removed from the Johnson Controls GLAS smart thermostat, a device once thought to be a flagship smart home product for the digital assistant when it was first unveiled two years ago.
Cortana is on a different path than it was in January 2018 when the device debuted, with Microsoft giving up on the digital assistant as serious competition for Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant. That change could play a role in how other companies work with the virtual brain.
Johnson Controls this week alerted owners of the GLAS smart thermostat that Cortana would be removed from the device via a firmware update.
“The Microsoft Cortana voice assistant will no longer work on your device,” according to an alert about the update obtained by SlashGear. “Moving forward, you will still have access to other voice assistants to control your thermostat through the Works with functionality of Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.”
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the situation and will update this story if we hear back.
Despite having some built-in advantages, principally an ecosystem of 800 million active Windows 10 devices around the world, Microsoft has so far failed to gain ground in the digital assistant race. In January, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted that the company no longer views Cortana as a competitor to Google Assistant and Alexa, and the priority has changed to make it a skill that works within other digital assistants across a variety of devices.
A Cortana executive last year said the company is playing the long game with its virtual brain, and Nadella has compared digital assistants to web browsers, saying they need to work together.
“The idea that you are always going to start with one wake word and one assistant is not how we start on the web,” Nadella said during his keynote at the Build developer conference in May. “What does an open assistant future look like, similar to an open web?”
Along those lines, Microsoft showed off a new vision for Cortana at Build, where the digital assistant carried on a free-flowing conversation with a person that went beyond typical single command and response answers and included shuffling around a schedule and creating new meetings on the go.
Under Nadella, Microsoft hasn’t been afraid to de-emphasize areas that aren’t paying off, or make a major pivot to re-invigorate a stagnant product, and that certainly seems to be happening with Cortana. Microsoft teamed up with Amazon in a surprising alliance to integrate their respective digital assistantsIn a recent Windows update, Microsoft separated Cortana from search and add the option to mute it during setup.
These changes came a few months after Microsoft’s Cortana chief left the company.