What's new with Cortana, your personal productivity assistant
Published Sep 22 2020 07:59 AM 49.1K Views

Last year at Microsoft Ignite 2019, we unveiled our vision to deliver transformational AI-powered experiences in Microsoft 365 through Cortana, your personal productivity assistant. Today, as we kick off Microsoft Ignite 2020, we’re excited to give you a closer look at Cortana enterprise-grade experiences now available as an integral part of Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Windows 10, and what’s coming next.


With the ongoing pandemic and rise in remote and hybrid work, many of us are seeking assistance to stay on top of the increased volume of virtual communications. And we are looking for new ways to collaborate effectively while working flexible schedules and juggling personal responsibilities. By putting the power of AI and the Microsoft Graph to work for you, Cortana can help you make the most of your time. From helping you prepare for an upcoming meeting by intelligently surfacing related files and tasks, to enabling you to use natural language to seamlessly find the right file, connect with the right person, or join your next meeting – your personal productivity assistant has you covered.


Your daily Briefing email from Cortana


This personalized, actionable brief in Outlook, automatically delivered to your inbox to help you start your day on track, is becoming generally available starting this month for Microsoft 365 users with Exchange Online mailboxes in English. And with updates coming by the end of the year, the Briefing email will streamline meeting preparation. Actionable reminders will make it easy to add an agenda or a Teams link for an upcoming meeting if you forget, and to spot if a meeting is missing quorum. Integration with Microsoft To Do will make it seamless to follow up on a suggested task later.


In addition to helping you prepare for the day ahead with the Briefing email, we are also lighting up scenarios to help you achieve your long-term productivity goals. In the coming months, we’ll add a weekly card to the Briefing email to make it easier to carve out time for what you want to accomplish in the week ahead – so you can seamlessly book time for catching up on emails, learning, or taking a break to recharge.

Weekly card coming in the Briefing email from CortanaWeekly card coming in the Briefing email from Cortana




We’re also working on bringing specialized insights for people managers to help boost your team’s productivity and wellbeing, such as prompts to schedule regular one-on-one time with your direct reports and reminders to follow up on key asks. 

Actionable insights for people managers coming in the Briefing email from CortanaActionable insights for people managers coming in the Briefing email from Cortana


Play My Emails in Outlook


This Outlook mobile experience, designed to enable you to listen and respond to what’s new in your inbox hands-free, is already available in Outlook for iOS and Android in English in the U.S. and will start rolling out in the coming months in English in Australia, Canada, U.K., and India. We’ve loved hearing how many of you are using Play My Emails to get organized while making your daily morning coffee, to stay connected while taking a break from screen time, or to get more done during your commute.

Joel says - I really like how Cortana keeps me informed of my upcoming calendar appointments and incoming messages with Play My Emails.png


With updates coming this month in Outlook for iOS in English in the U.S., you can use Play My Emails with multiple accounts. When connected to an audio device such as headphones, users can now keep the phone in their pocket or on a countertop once the experience starts and continue to interact with their inbox through their headphones. To move a conversation forward in real time, you can now use this experience to initiate a call with the sender of an email.

Initiate a call with Play My EmailsInitiate a call with Play My Emails

 To dig deeper on a specific conversation, you can ask Cortana to play emails from a specific person, time, or topic. You can also customize the experience to read emails just from your favorite people. With new car settings, once you connect to your car and open Outlook for iOS, you can initiate and navigate the experience using the buttons on your steering wheel.

Customize to play emails from your favorite peopleCustomize to play emails from your favorite people


Cortana in Teams


To help you stay connected to your team even when you have your hands full, Cortana is now available in English in the U.S. in the Teams mobile apps on iOS and Android. We’re excited to share how some of our customers are using Cortana voice assistance to streamline collaboration, and we hope you’ll try it for yourself soon. Just click the microphone button on the top right and speak in natural language to make a call, join a meeting, send chat messages, share files, and more.

Justin says - Cortana's transcription and responses are accurate, allowing me to stay focused... Sai says - Microsoft Teams is simply superb!.png


In the upcoming weeks, Cortana will also become generally available in Microsoft Teams displays, a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices, to offer hands-free experiences in English in the U.S. Availability will expand in the coming months to English in Australia, Canada, U.K., and India. And later this year, Cortana will be introduced in Microsoft Teams Rooms devices in English in the U.S., offering touchless experiences to join and end meetings in shared spaces. 


Cortana in Windows 10


With the Windows 10 May 2020 update, we released a new chat-based Cortana experience in Windows 10 that enables you to type or speak natural language commands to save time finding what you need, stay on schedule, connect with people, set reminders, and more. This experience can now be invoked hands-free using the wake word “Cortana” and with updates coming soon, will also support additional productivity-focused natural language commands for file search and email composing for Microsoft 365 users with Exchange Online mailboxes in English in the U.S.

Today, we’re excited to give you a first look at our future plans to more proactively assist you with Cortana in Windows 10 – for instance, by surfacing relevant emails and documents to help you prepare for an upcoming meeting.

Cortana intelligently surfaces an upcoming meeting and prep materialsCortana intelligently surfaces an upcoming meeting and prep materials

Learn More


For a more detailed look at how Cortana can help you start your day on track, stay connected and get time back on your busy schedule, watch our Microsoft Ignite 2020 session on-demand.

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