Javier Soltero was the head of the Office team at Microsoft but he has since vacated that position, and is now the head of a new team in Redmond. Soltero is reportedly now the corporate VP over Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana. Soltero has a big job ahead of him, as Cortana is the underdog in the fight against industry leader Alexa from Amazon and the Google Assistant.
The reason that Cortana has been relegated to third fiddle has to do with the fact that it’s not used outside of Microsoft hardware and software. Cortana is found on all Windows 10 machines, the Xbox platform and recently the GLAS thermostat from Johnson Controls. Both Google and Amazon have their respective virtual assistants inside a myriad of devices from smartphones to streaming Bluetooth speakers.
"It's exciting It's challenging," Soltero told Axios. "It's candidly not what I expected would happen."
Soltero talked a bit about what drew him to the new position, saying that he wanted to work on something that only a big company could solve. However, Amazon and Google might argue that they have already "solved" voice assistants and are continually getting better at their jobs.
"If I was to leave Microsoft and start another company I would be doing something related to voice," Soltero added. “The real contest is about which company users will choose and entrust with essentially all of the information or the majority of their information.”
Considering that hordes of computer users already trust all their information to Windows devices, Soltero could have a point and Microsoft might be better positioned than many think to gain ground in the voice assistant arena. Microsoft has tried to set itself apart from the voice assistant crowd with more transparency into what Cortana knows about users. Cortana also allows users to edit that information; none of the other voice assistants offer those capabilities.