Microsoft’s Cortana is sleeping with the fishes

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/18/microsofts-cortana-is-sleep.html

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That’s just for Android and iOS, where it was competing with the platform defaults.

It’ll be a while before they kill it for Windows, where they make it very hard for the machine owners to delete it.

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Maybe I should use Cortana, just so I can say I did?

Nah. Even at that very low bar, it still seems pointless…

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I think that being paranoid about a voice assistant (and one that’s not even well made enough to understand you very well, much less do anything nefarious) is a bit of a waste of worry-cells.

It does amuse me that they tried to infuse Halo branding into their entire OS ecosystem.

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Maybe they picked the wrong game?

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It seems a slightly dark choice to go with an AI from the game universe where all AIs go into rampancy after a few years of operation(unintentionally honest, perhaps, 1903 got bitten by a nasty bug a little while back where, under some circumstances, Cortana would grab into about half your CPU and hammer on it indefinitely to no obvious purpose, that was fun…); and where the said AI spends much of the time loaded in the neural implants of someone who was kidnapped as a child for a standard-issue unethical supersoldier experiment.

They seem to have omitted Cortana’s gradually increasing anatomical implausibility from the Windows version, at least.

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I think I heard of Cortana once. :thinking:

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It’s the thing you disable when you install Windows 10.

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Sadly, it was removed from Xbox some time back. Sadly, because basic xbox control was one of the few worthwhile things left to do with my Kinect.

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What does this actually mean? @SeamusBellamy

Cortana’s death has been a long time coming. Last year, Microsoft’s CEO admitted that the company’s virtual assistant could keep up with the likes of Alexa or Siri.

Was it supposed to be “CLAIMED it could keep up” or should it be “admitted it could NOT keep up”?

Not that I could or couldn’t care less.

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MS has had a hard on for “virtual assistants” since forever
Everybody LOVEs Clippy, right?
I don’t know why TF they keep trying to make it work. It’s kind of obsessive at this point.

Waaaaay back in the Clippy days, I worked at a web agency that briefly employed several “internet psychology specialists” whose job it was to review our designs and make suggestions to improve their communication. Inevitably, every single time, they recommended that we add a “virtual assistant like Clippy” (which we never did).

Their theory: old people like having their hand held and are scared of the internet and technology in general.

I’m guessing MS still holds fast to this theory.

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O&O Shut Up will disable Cortana and other Win 10 spyware.

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its seldom if ever a fear of the quality of the A.I. its that you have agreed to have a microphone listen to you constantly and send things back to its servers.

their desire to depreciate it proves to me that some of what it did was server side and when a company uses voice control and server side it often uses cheap human labor instead of A.I. which then bugs people that strangers are listening.

you said it sucked so in Cortana’s case it prob was software only. I seem to remember at least one of the bots that came out claimed to be totally on your phone so that’d be another reason it sucked in responsiveness.

To be clear, the Cortana app is what’s being killed off (because it’s very rudimentary and there’s really no reason for it to exist, since Siri and Alexa perform the same function on an OS level and far better), and both iOS and Android give you the power to only let Cortana listen to you when the app is open, so it’s not exactly monitoring you. You’d open the app, ask it something, and close it, that’s all.

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I wouldn’t say two in like thirty years is obsessive. Cortana was an attempt to get into the market that Siri and Alexa are dominating, it’s not like it’s some crazy concept that MS alone is trying to hammer into people’s lives (like Kinect for example).

@ActuallyARegular Cortana was a separate feature from the original Kinect voice commands, you can still use those to control your Xbox.

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if the OS gives you the chance to make Cortana only listen to you when the app is open then there is a chance to leave it be. I can see various levels of notifying the user of that option from buried in settings to a in your face kinda deal, but I dunno from experience. still a shame its if its opt in.

I agree that taking it off of phones with a better assistant is all that they are doing. I still think IF there is server side work it does save them the cost as well.

They may not be wrong.

Clippy (hereafter called Office Assistant or OA) was designed to both replace the help system and provide training. The problem OA had is that it was also made proactive, but the detection system for when it should be proactive was full of trash data. Or had a bad algorithm. Or, based on experience, probably both of those things.

That’s why we yelled “No, damn you, I’m not writing a letter!” so often.

Microsoft scaled back the OA’s proactivity in Office 2000, and I found that - after switching it to Links, because who doesn’t like cats? - it wasn’t that bad.

Then they killed off OA, and went with the Ribbon. Which is a terrible interface. The Ribbon’s reason for existence is to make features easier to discover - so why are we all still clicking around in the Ribbon looking for features? It’s not much better than clicking around in a traditional menu/toolbar interface.

What the OA had that the Ribbon doesn’t is an automation engine. The OA could take you, step by step, through a demonstration of a feature. Kind of like how modern videogames do, rather than having a manual or tutorial level.

So if they’d stuck with OA, we’d potentially be in a world where you’d hit F1, it pops up, and you say “How do I add error bars to this graph?”.
It then animates and moves around the screen, taking you through exactly which steps you need. With your live data. So at the end of the tutorial, you’ve both done the job AND learned something.

Instead, we have the Ribbon. So we go to Google, type in “Excel add error bars to graph” and go to the web page or Youtube video we think looks best.

The fact that there are Youtube videos on this tells us that those psychology specialists were right - we want to have our hand held. We want some level of helpful, non-judgemental interaction when we’re being trained in a new thing.

The Office Assistant could have done that. Its supposed successor, the Ribbon, is a spectacular failure on that score.

It’s a shame that Microsoft didn’t persevere with the Office Assistant technologies. There was a really good idea at its core. 22 years later, we’ve got nothing that comes close to it.

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And where you have to voluntarily install it. So practically no one “had” to put up with it.

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What I want is an app to strangle Cortana to death actually.
Why does that horror still start when disabled is a mystery to me…

I spent more time disabling ‘helpful’ memory hogs from win10 than I care for. ( And I still avoid using the start menu like the plague after Microsoft’s 'let’s autoinstall this software you absolutely (won’t ever) need and add some ads to the useless tiles (you previously disabled) to boot!’ )

Mmm… Small change then: What I want is an app to strangle whoever thought this was a good idea to death…

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