back to article 'Cortana-gate' ruins Satya Nadella's Microsoft honeymoon

It looks like Satya Nadella's honeymoon as Microsoft CEO is over, and it happened during what's already being called "Cortana-gate" by Redmond's own commentards. Smart and decisive, Nadella has enjoyed good press and huge support within Microsoft. But his instant response to the many strategic issues bedevilling Microsoft - …


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  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now

    in terms of how fast they get turned off?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now

      I spent more time making Cortana work by changing all the regional settings that I did using before turning it all off again.

      Great for setting an alarm, but other than that a pain - why do MS insist on having location turned on for even the most trivial tasks?

      1. Colin Ritchie

        Re: compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now

        "why do MS insist on having location turned on for even the most trivial tasks?"

        Maybe they think Winphone and Surface owners are so special they have to know where you are at all times. I think we may have to spell special another way here.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ AMBxx -- [W]hy do MS insist on having location turned on for even the most trivial tasks?

        Think about it for, say, 5 seconds or so, and if you IQ is anywhere above room temperature, you should come up with the right answer.

        (Hint: Ads)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now

      I use Google Now many many times a day. It's not the stupid talk to it and it talks back to you gimmick that many seem to think it is (altough it can do this), it's far more grounded in things I need to know during my day.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now

      Microsoft haven't got a clue. Whatsoever. No one uses Siri or Google Now (except perhaps the usual suspects...) and even less have access to the teenage-Halo-inspired-gimmick-Cortana let alone will actually use it. Talk about a micro-climate within a storm in a tea cup!

  2. Can't think of anything witty...

    As a non-Journo, Non-hipster WP owner...

    I couldn't care less if Cortana is put out onto IOS/Android. If they believe that it is a great product then put it out there and prove it to those using GoogleNow / Siri.

    If it's as good as they say, then it will give a lot of credibility to WP as a whole... if it isn't then they really should stop shouting about it.

    By the way, i don't in any way feel short changed for taking WP in the first place. i didn't get one on the promise of something 2 years down the line that i had never heard of when i bought the phone.

    i bought it because i liked it (and still do for what it is worth). My bigger concern is WP8.1. Sure it's got some improvements in there, but i wonder if it is converging on the other two systems. I guess that some people see that as filling the gaps (like a notification centre) but it seems a little "me too" for a feature that i never really feel that i have missed...

    1. h3

      Re: As a non-Journo, Non-hipster WP owner...

      With stuff like that I think it would end up working best when more people are using it.

      (Never been one to care what other people have unless it is a direct negative influence on myself).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another fantastic MS strategy

    #2 'Real plan is about cortana on windows phone. Make it so good that windows phone customers get everyone they know on windows phone'

    #5 Essentially says release it for android and iOS'

    If they succeed in 2 then 5 is pretty pointless as they'd then be the number one smartphone player. Another classic MS strategy that makes little to no sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they succeed in 2 then 5 is pretty pointless

      Really? So when the 5 windows phone users have persuaded all their friends the market is sewn up? Typical badly thought out anti-ms AC bs....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite frankly

    Apple is turning itself into a "lifestyle" shop. I think the industry as a whole is moving that way. On the one hand we will have massive datacentres owned by a couple of companies, and on the other hand we will have the myriad companies that will feed off/feed in.

    Apple is hedging its bets, but it's mostly a fashion brand that happens to make some pretty great hardware. Microsoft OTOH is making great strides in cloud services (despite what their partners might prefer). However, in terms of fashion', Microsoft has never "got it" and will only "get it" if they "buy it", i.e. buy some small hip(pish) company to produce a one-hit wonder. That is clearly not part of a strategy though so in all likelihood their consumer efforts will never offer a good ROI.

    I know, you're thinking about X-box, but that success story was only possible due to the mistakes Sony made. As with most other markets where Microsoft eventually succeeded their only advantage was that they could hold out longer than the rest. All they have to do is wait for the competition to self-implode.

    That strategy is not going to work against companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung, which is why Microsoft hasn't had a winner this century (no, XP till SP2 was so utterly horrible it led directly to the delays that cursed Vista so that by the time 7 came around the tide was already turning and Microsoft could no longer react in a timely manner).

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Quite frankly

      Xbox & XB360 success wasn't just handed to MS by Sony, MS had a very hands off approach to the XBox division. They staffed it with gaming folk and let them get on with trying not to be Microsoft. It was always faintly disturbing the way they sent the 'men in suit's' to visit developers but by and large they avoided MS dickheadery.

      ...until XBOne and it's mediaplayer focus dragged in the corporate Microsoft thinking and it all went downhill fast. Still digging themselves out of that fiasco. It's a potent reminder that MS no longer have the power to tell users what they want, instead of asking and more importantly listening to what they're told. Though it's hard to believe anyone out there actually asked for anything on Android or IOS - perhaps Office and Outlook but nothing else.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Quite frankly

        @Paul Shirley

        Good point but your chronology is a bit off - the beginning of the end was in 2011 when the dashboard was updated on the Xbox 360 to be 'Metro'. More 'connected' options, 'friends' page changed to 'social', more advertisements and 'spotlights', etc...

        That was the beginning of them actively bringing the Xbox back into the MS world.

      2. Law

        Re: Quite frankly

        "until XBOne and it's mediaplayer focus dragged in the corporate Microsoft thinking and it all went downhill fast."

        I'd say it went a bit downhill after the third (or was it forth) dashboard refresh on the 360 (the metro looking one... the current one). At that point, my xbox's games took a backseat to apps, social features and advertising.

        I already pay for Xbox Gold, I paid for the xbox, and I paid for the game... I don't need to see an ad for some football streaming app on my main window. At that point, I realised the gamers in the Xbox division had lost the fight... it was now a media box. The Xbone was just the logical next step.. expensive hardware, focus on apps/media content/ads, ignore the gamers and game developers.

  5. heyrick Silver badge

    Loyalty my ass

    Example - I registered my new iOS device last August. Registrations September or later get most of the nice Apple apps free. They're like €8,99 to me.

    This was not done out of any sense of loyalty. It was because iOS7 was having a bit of a Marmite love it or hate it response, so they wanted to do something to encourage new registrations (which means new sales).

    So to with Microsoft. They want to try to break into a new market. This isn't about loyalty, it is about a commercial opportunity. As they are an international company, what do you suppose is important to them: making money or making fanboys feel loved?

    1. h3

      Re: Loyalty my ass

      Getting into a new market is important to them so for a while that will translate to being good for the customer. (If they ever get a decent share it will stop).

      If Xbox starts to drop seriously low then it will become good for the customer again.

      The best stuff for the user always comes from Microsoft when they are trying to compete.

  6. dogged

    Nerds throw toys out of pram.

    Film at 11.

  7. arctic_haze

    Isn't it obvious?

    Microsoft has everything it needs to become a patent troll champ. They can add more money from parasiting on other companies than from their own devices. And this is how it will probably end, Nadella willing or not.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Learner drivers

    "Imagine if the official advice to learner drivers was: "Mirror First, Signal First". Which is it?"

    Off-topic, I know, but I don't have to imagine this. A significant number of drivers seem to start signalling while simultaneously looking in their mirror and starting to turn, so they've already made you haul on the anchors before they realise they're about to be overtaken and swerve back into their lane. Learn to drive, morons.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Learner drivers

      And since they are invariably either looking the wrong direction or are completely oblivious to anything NOT a car, the run over poor pedestrians and cyclists.

    2. Tim Bates

      Re: Learner drivers

      You mean people use their indicators where you are? Luxury!

  9. jason 7

    Folks forget...

    ...MS is mainly a software company.

    I always thought the end goal was to get your software on more hardware than anyone elses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Folks forget...

      " Folks forget...

      ...MS is mainly a software company."

      It used to be a software company - I'm not sure what it is now

      1. Steve Knox

        Re: Folks forget...

        I think the problem is, Microsoft's not sure what it is now.

  10. Robert E A Harvey


    So something I don't want won't be available on something I don't have before it becomes available on something I have but don't use.

    OK, then.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really - it's all wrong now?

    Forgive me, but I am genuinely struggling to understand how "Cortana-gate" = "Rethink the entire MS Mobile/Cloud strategy". Outside of the small Winphone userbase has anyone even heard of "Cortana-gate", let alone viewed it as some indication that Satella's just made a HUGE strategic mistake - other than you, Andrew?

    I'm no fan of MS, but I think you are reading WAY too much into this.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Really - it's all wrong now?

      SATELLA CORTANAGATOR! Wrestles huge animals and virtual wimmin! AMAZING SIGHTS!

    2. Ian 7

      Re: Really - it's all wrong now?

      I'm IN the WinPhone userbase, and I'd never heard of Cortana-gate, and now I have I can't see what the fuss is about. Totally agree with you, way to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Really - it's all wrong now?

      You're entitled to your anonymous-but-strongly-held view, but the problem is saying two sometimes-conflicting goals are both first. This story highlights this problem and the hasn't gone away.

      Telling customers what the strategy actually *is* might clarify this.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's no "blame it on the Ballmer" any more.

    Tim Cook and now Nads. The tech world is pretty terrible now.

    Glad I jumped off the Windows Phone wagon just before it fell into a ravine.

    1. jason 7

      It's like Spitting Image...

      ...went downhill after Reagan and Thatcher went out of politics.

      All very grey.

      More peas dear?

      1. Hans 1

        Re: It's like Spitting Image...

        That is just because nobody took over Margareth's office ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When was it not in the ravine? It's been a failure since day one.

      1. Hellcat

        Let me offer my sincere thanks on your comment. I had mistakenly believed my phone was able to make calls, send texts and emails, browse the web and waste hours of my life which I will not get back on daft games and watching cats on YouTube. I immediately threw it in the bin once I read your comment and will proceed directly to a phone store to buy an iOS or Droid since only these devices can do what I need.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I best chuck my Lumia 1020 and find my nexus 4 from wherever I put it a few months ago.

  13. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Google Now sucks stellar masses through millipore filters

    I got bored and decided to try it on my Moto G. I mainly wanted the voice commands. Turns out that is not available on the Moto G unless I hack in the "Nexus 4 Google Experience Launcher" as it seems the launcher is where the always-on voice recognition feature resides. If you don't have it, you end up with the Apple-style push-a-button-for-Siri setup.

    Since I'm much happier with my own launcher, I turned Google Now back off.

    Damned toxic hellbrew of fragmentation.

    I'll be happy to install Cortana and give her a try (fnarr!)

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Windows Phone Users need to get out of the JPZR (remember him?) mentality that has beset them for so long. Honestly, just because daddy wants to help another kid across the street, it doesn't mean he doesn't love you any more.

    I think Microsoft should have at least an accepting nod to the pragmatism they're showing the market where they realise and acknowledge the competition -- remember when they couldn't say the word 'Symbian' (without mouthing it like a granny saying 'lesbian' -- I just realised those two words rhyme).

    Don't these Jacekites realise that if Cortana were to take off in popularity on those platforms (I know it's not likely, but humour me), then it would surely mean massive success for Windows Phone (call it a HALO effect if you like).

    I love Windows Phone, honestly I do, one of my best friends has one (actually, so do I), but retreating into an Apple-esque closed culture won't help the userbase.

    1. John P

      I think these idiots are probably a minority. If they bought in to the platform in order to get things they hadn't heard of and expected to have some sort of exclusivity of all WP features, then I've no sympathy with them as they are clearly not the most intelligent of people.

      I've got a WP and the possibility of Cortana ending up on IOS and Android has absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. Come to think of it, it can only be a good thing as more users = more development. If Cortana turns out to be a good technology, then the more people who want it and can get it, the better.

      I look forward to getting it myself (damn US-only Beta!)

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Question about platforms running Microsoft Software Assistant 1.0

    Would it only be journos and hipsters who are bothered about that 2.5 page thread on a forum? If the thread were called something else would even they bother?

  16. Rick Giles

    There's a Windows Phone?

    Next you'll be telling me that a lot of ATM's run XP...

  17. W. Anderson

    Pie in the Sky thinking

    Microsoft is continuing down the path of confused strategy and execution, particilarly if listening to the dysfunctional rhetoric of "loyal" Windows phone purchasers, who are obviously suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.

    This is evident by Microsoft's statement with loyalists' agreement in thinking that Cortana will be so great on Windows mobile devices that iOS and Android smartphone and tablet users will "switch" to make Windows Mobile larger than competition - i.e. switching out or reversing approx. 4% for Microsoft sales to 94% by their competition. Such stupid and sick thinking is why Microsoft is continuously flailing.

  18. chris lively

    You realize that activating a turn signal and looking at a mirror are actions that can be handled independently. In other words, they can both be first.

    It's only when a dependency exists between the two, or that resources are constrained, that you have to pick one or the other. In this case, MS can say "cloud first, mobile first" and execute both simultaneously. Of course, this requires MS to have decent management and technical competence.

  19. P. Lee

    Don't know the difference between cloud and mobile?

    Cloud is "runs remotely in a data centre"

    Mobile is "GUI available for phones and tablets."

    For example, there is no requirement whatsoever for map applications to run in the cloud, except that it makes the provider seem benevolent and ties the user to the map-provider, provides better tracking and privacy incursion. Of course, since they provide both phones and and Windows desktops, there's no reason they couldn't include a phone emulator so you can run the apps on your desktop too.

    The strategy has no beneficial meaning for users but it does have meaning for MS. "Cloud First" means they don't want to sell you software because software lasts forever, they want to take away your ability to do things without them and just sell you access to their stuff. This is a new thing for them, as they are used to selling (perpetual) software licenses to endusers and support (EA) agreements for software upgrades, not to actually run the stuff themselves.

    What this means is that they will make no attempt to get applications running on mobile devices, only use them as dumb terminals. ARM had better look out. Those quad/octo-core chips won't be necessary if MS (and Google) get their way. Oddly, I suspect Apple, Asus and Samsung et al, will be the ones driving ARM chippery for mobile apps (and HP for data centre apps). These companies don't care where the apps are run and less cloud processing means more reliability.

  20. roger stillick

    Cortana Assistant ?? I want my Uniden Dumb Fone...

    Way back when we had a 900meg Uniden dumb phone w/caller id, and a pager... we yearned for better...

    We got way better fones now and it's a boring waste of time to constantly update a database just to make it work ok.... that time probably better spent playing on handheld game machines...

    Q= why doesn't Garmin make a simple fone ??

    IMHO= Talk, Text, IM, GPS... that's all that is needed... perhaps music as more than a 12 key pad n 5 key pointer w/2key start buttons, or, 19 input devices on a touch screen ?? sure = make it sealed n waterproof w/no jacks - just bluetooth...8gig of internal sealed memory, sealed internal battery... sell for USD. $150.00...probably cost USD.$20.00 to make...everyone wins...

    the sad part is right now, using the Nokia plant, these things could be in full production and MS couldn't make enough to keep up with the demand...every car owner and sports person on planet earth would need one... perhaps even make a GPS / Galileo / Glonass multiple sattellite receiver for the entire planet... remember = It's Just Software, the hardware exists today...everywhere, and Software is MS Job #1 per their ads...RS.

  21. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I have a free idea for a new slogan and corporate direction for Microsoft...

    "Customer first."

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a free idea for a new slogan and corporate direction for Microsoft...

      "Customer first."

      First doing what? Bending over?! Since Hell hasn't frozen over yet, and since I do live in Hell, I can tell you it's lot's of burning shine. [Yes, really. 25+C here.] The really interesting fact here is we see Classic Apple Fan-boy behavior around Windows Phone. Wow! Who's been spiking my coffee with crystal meth again?

  22. Chairo

    "Cloud First Mobile First"

    How about "Customer First Usability First" ? Oh, that was last decade's slogan - I see.

  23. xperroni

    Punter, meet bus

    (...) [W]e've been loyal, so why hasn't Microsoft reciprocated our loyalty?

    Because for Microsoft, throwing under a bus the fools who dare to trust its goodwill isn't merely a sport, it's a way of life.

  24. Hans 1

    Here I was thinking Cortana-gate was about the massive data-harvesting operation Cortana actually is and then I read this artcile ... I think this is peanuts to the massive FAIL it will be when ppl realize what Cortana does ... but then, that's just me.

    All your [meta]data is belong to us^2.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's pretty much every smartphone app, isn't it?

      ... not to mention the underlying smartphone O/S's? They're all hoovering up every scrap of detail about our lives they can. I have both an Android and iOS device (the latter is supplied by work -- economies of scale leverages to feed the need for bling by the movers-and-shakers), and you only have to pay superficial attention to the network and PI (personal information) access requested to realize they're laying the groundwork for present and future surveillance. Although most of our global idiocracy may be clueless about this, those of us who are a bit more observant should probably think about our alternatives -- like dumb phones or more privacy-friendly O/S's like Replicant (sorry iOS and Windows phone users, think you're out of luck there).And yet, Both Now and Siri are turned off on my phones, I've got enought voices babbling at me already and need fewer distractions, not more. Kind of comes with working for a living rather than spending half my waking hours product testing for multinationals without pay.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delusional from Microsoft, as usual

    If Microsoft thinks Cortana is the killer app that finally allows Windows Phone to slay the Apple-Android duopoly... it must be quite delusional.

    You can tell Microsoft was quite desperate at explaining away their true intentions in that screenshot of the Twitter feed. If you can remember a couple of years ago Microsoft bragged about being able to run Microsoft Office on Windows phones and tablets.

    Nobody cared and sales of Windows phones and tablets were still poor, so Microsoft ported Office to iOS and Android. So much for the #WindowsPhone experience... LOL!

  26. Phil_Evans

    As Yoda Once said...

    to Luke during his 'Jedi training'...."That is why you fail." <cringe>

    Microsoft's Marketing muscle-brain is mightier than...well, it's just mightier, OK!!? The answer is 'Windows Phone'!! In a world where the platform is becoming less important, the <geeks/> that inhabit the unique space-time-continuum of Redmond would insist otherwise. But in this case I sense it's just the absence of another domino falling. The one for Microsoft Office is well and truly fallen over with availability on, well anything really.

    If Windows Phone is not to become the next Zune, then MSFT need to accept, again and again, not for the last time, that platform matters not any more. It's app and content. Or in this case voice app, which outside the iOS platform is still a great hunting ground.

    But no, selling bricks seems to be more important. Taking this position means that a potentially big defeat has been clutched from the jaws of victory.

    Rant ends.

  27. John Crisp

    Think its going to be a long time before talking to your brick becomes 'de rigeur'.

    For me I think its a blessing. It's bad enough with people hollering to each other on their toys - naturally not being able to hear the other end is easily cured by shouting louder. And I really don't need to hear the ins and outs of your personal life. I have enough crap in my own thanks.

    The only thing I do hear people say to their phone when NOT on a call is stuff like 'why the f*ck doesn't the battery last longer you piece of sh*t' and 'bugger, no f*cking signal'

    Once cortana et al can answer these mystifying questions they may catch on.....

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