Anyone who says Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, isn’t actively or even passively creating a culture change in the company probably isn’t paying attention. Whether it is Android compatible smartwatches from Microsoft, or bringing their office suite to Google’s OS – the company has definitely acknowledged Android in a big way. Turns out Satya’s comment at their recent BUILD conference in regards to supporting other platforms may be true, and a sound business decision at that – with Windows Phone doing less than stellar. Well, the news from Microsoft only gets more surprising with the company exploring the possibility of bringing its virtual personal assistant “Cortana” to Android. On this point, Marcus Ash, the Windows Phone Group Program Manager said recently:
“We want to scale Cortana internationally and across devices. The Android/iOS question is interesting. We’re asking, would Cortana be as effective if she didn’t have access to the details on your phone? We’re still trying to get Cortana adopted on Windows Phone and figure out what it wants to become there. But we’re actively talking about this.”
Not exactly the most assuring or bold statement in regards to the subject of supporting another operating system. But the statement comes from a company that, until recently, seemed to display little to no interest in Android. The important nugget here is that this is another acknowledgement by Microsoft of the current realities of the mobile market, and is part of a strategy shift for the company – similar to Google’s strategy. Google has supported the likes of iOS, providing most of its apps on the platform. This is a wise move as the more reliant people become on Google’s ecosystem – the easier it is to make the switch to Android. Microsoft may be considering doing the same thing. Right now Cortana is not that compelling when only a small fraction of mobile phone users (those on Windows Phone) can use it, as the underdog in this space Microsoft has to show users on other platforms their “great” products if they hope to attract anyone to use them. Bringing Cortana to more platforms may be a way to do that.
But with Google Now adding new features, with little signs of slowing down – it will take more than a good port to Android for Cortana to take hold. I think Microsoft would be wise to release Cortana on other platforms, but it needs to leverage integration with its other products (XBox, Windows on the desktop) to really take the battle to Now. We’ll have to see what happens, I’m not Microsoft’s biggest fan, but this would be a good move on their part and I hope they give it a legitimate shot. But I don’t see myself fleeing Now’s warm embrace anytime soon. Would you use Cortana on Android or do you think it is a waste of Microsoft’s time? Let us know in the comments below.