Microsoft’s Outlook for iPhone boss is now in charge of Cortana

Cortana for iPhone
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS and Android boss is now transitioning to a new role inside the company, overseeing the Cortana digital assistant. Javier Soltero first joined Microsoft back in December 2014 when the software maker acquired the Acompli email app that soon became Outlook for iPhone and Android.

Axios reports that Soltero has moved to overseeing Cortana around three weeks ago, and will report to Harry Shum, Microsoft’s head of AI and research. Microsoft’s Outlook mobile app has become a popular option for both iOS and Android users, and the company has been continually updating it over the past few years. Cortana has debuted on both iOS and Android, but it hasn’t had the same impact as Outlook.

Microsoft’s Cortana has now fallen far behind Alexa and Google Assistant, and that was particularly evident at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. With the exception of the Cortana-powered thermostat (announced last year), no new Cortana devices were unveiled at CES this year. Soltero’s move could be a boost to Microsoft’s Cortana efforts, and it comes just as the company has partnered with Amazon to integrate Alexa and Cortana digital assistants.


Why does the title say "for iPhone" and not Android?

Putting the Accompli app guy in charge of Cortana gives me no hope for its future. It’s about to be just an app instead of the AI platform it was meant to.

I wonder what position he’ll be promoted to when it’s finally killed

It’s about to be just an app instead of the AI platform it was meant to.

That seems like quite the unlogical conclusion to make. So because the former Accompli CEO made a very successful app he won’t ever be able to be successful with another kind of software product?

Add Cortana to the list of failed Microsoft projects. So many missteps from Microsoft I have lost count how many projects they simply failed at.

It’s not failed yet. It’s still being actively worked upon and they got a lot of new integrations and partners this year already.

It started failing when they canceled Windows 10 Mobile, which killed the biggest user base for a personal assistant. I have Cortana on my Win 10 PC, and I have yet to use it, but when I was using a Lumia 640 XL, I used it constantly – especially the location based reminders, and making sure I didn’t miss my flights.

The nail in Cortana’s coffin was put in when they announced the partnership with Alexa.

RIP Cortana. Like most Microsoft products, you were way ahead of your time, and you were killed by the internal politics of the lumbering dinosaur that birthed you.

Honestly I still prefer Cortana to any of the alternatives. Its nice to have the same thing working and syncing across my PCs, android phone, and iPhone (and my poor sad abandoned WP).

It would just be nice if phone makers would let you kill their own efforts, or at least let you remap the default. Accidentally launching GA or Siri is annoying.

I have tried it on my Android phone and it is just useless. Whether this is a Europe thing or an Android thing I don’t know.

Definitely a Europe thing. It’s great in the US. I tried switching it to the UK version when I was working abroad and it was laughably limited in comparison; which is a terrible problem to have when you consider that Alexa and Siri have global feature parity.

I loved Cortana in the US but in Australia its pretty sub par.

The advantage of one assistant everywhere doesn’t outweigh it’s limitations tbh

Fingers crossed he can give Cortana a bit more energy and a boost. Love my Invoke and would love to see Cortana become an even more powerful AI assistant akin to Google’s.

I’m more interested in the New Timeline Feature coming to Windows 10.
It works with Cortana. And it extends to Android and iOS. If you have a Smartphone, it’s the only reason to install Cortana, instead of just using Siri or Google Assistant.

Cortana-integrated Outlook?

Cortana was integrated with outlook, in Windows 10 Mobile. I don’t know about Win 10 on PC, because I have yet to use Cortana on my PC.

He’s gotta get consumers into it, just give them something to do with Cortana cause right now it’s got nothing. Even the voice is harsh compared to Google Assistant. If I could access GA from my computer that would be it, I’m fully in. The outlook app is excellent though so even if he didn’t build it he can clearly guide a product forward.

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