Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana lags behind Google Assistant and Alexa in 2018. The software giant has slowly repositioned Cortana as a skill that can be run anywhere, not as a competitor to Google, Amazon or Apple. Microsoft now seems to offer Cortana more in-house conversational interactions, and at Microsoft's developer conference this year, the company demonstrated Cortana's ability to actively respond to conversations and actively organize meetings and reminders.
Cortana's session elements have been improved. Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines last year and worked with Microsoft researchers to create conversational artificial intelligence that combines skills and context to enable digital assistants like Cortana to do what customers are asking for. It is designed to connect to services owned by Microsoft and even third parties, so that digital assistants like Cortana can get the right context when users ask it to add calendar entries or organize a reservation.
However, Microsoft does target some of its new features to the enterprise. Microsoft demonstrated this new conversational artificial intelligence, which is aimed at employees who ask for meetings and change their schedules for colleagues. Microsoft envisions that every business will have its own virtual assistants, just as companies have their own websites and can interact to complete tasks. Microsoft is providing this new conversation engine to developers through the company's bot framework, which will also be integrated into Cortana.
For Cortana, this is definitely a deliberate shift. At the end of last year, Microsoft moved Cortana from its AI research department to its experience and equipment team, indicating that Cortana is an assistant to multiple products and platforms. Microsoft's Cortana CEO also left last year, and the company has repositioned Cortana on Windows 10, including separating it from the search and muting the digital assistant during the installation process.