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Microsoft is moving Cortana into a separate app in the Windows store

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Cortana might not always be a built-in app

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft might be working on making Cortana better at holding conversations, but the software maker is also increasingly separating its digital assistant from Windows 10. This first started with the decoupling of Cortana from search in the recent Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and now Microsoft is bringing Cortana to the Microsoft Store as a separate app. A Cortana beta has appeared in the store, and it hints that the digital assistant could eventually not be built into Windows 10.

Microsoft is using this beta app to update Cortana separately from Windows 10, so the digital assistant can supposedly get new features quickly. However, Cortana was always built as a web-based service, so that it could be updated without core Windows 10 changes. It’s not immediately clear what Microsoft has planned here, but it’s likely connected to the upcoming beta phase of its codename 19H2 Windows 10 Update.

Microsoft had planned to start testing 19H2 by now, and originally promised a spring release to testers. The company has been surprisingly quiet about what 19H2 even includes, but it’s expected to arrive later this year with a full Linux kernel. Microsoft even started testing its first 2020 Windows 10 update ahead of 19H2, and it continues to issue builds to testers.