Former Apple Siri leader Bill Stasior was named Microsoft corporate vice president of technology and will collaborate with Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, The Information reported on Friday (Aug. 19).
In his new role, Stasior will be tasked with company-wide technology strategies as Microsoft works to reshape the role of its personal digital assistant Cortana.
Microsoft is removing Cortana as part of an integrated part of Windows 10 and will make it into a separate app. The repositioning of Cortana has been a goal of Microsoft for more than a year, hoping to move beyond standalone assistants like Alexa to more of an assistance aide. The company said Cortana is evolving to handle more complex queries, according to the report.
Stasior will “work to help align technology strategies across the company,” Microsoft said in a statement. Prior to his seven-year stint at Apple, Stasior led Amazon’s “A9” search unit and was a member of “the S-team” responsible for closely advising Jeff Bezos.
Stasior left Apple in May 2019 and became an executive advisor to Avellino Lab, which specializes in genetic diagnostics and data, and is still working for that company as an executive advisor.
Microsoft started re-positioning Cortana in 2018 after it fell behind Google Home Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in January that the hardware giant no longer views Cortana as a direct competitor to Alexa or Google Assistant.
“Cortana needs to be that skill for anybody who’s a Microsoft 365 subscriber,” he said, in reference to Microsoft’s recent push for consumer subscriptions. “You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just like how you use our apps on Android and iOS, so that’s at least how we want to think about where it’ll go.”
Cortana used to be in Microsoft’s AI (artificial intelligence) research division, but the company moved the assistant into its Experiences and Devices team, signaling the change in goals for Cortana.