Microsoft’s vice president in charge of Cortana, Javier Soltero is leaving the company in December.  Javier came to Microsoft in 2014 through an acquisition.

Soltero, before being placed in charge of Cortana, created update versions of Outlook for iOS and Android.  He was then chosen to lead the Cortana team since March.  Currently, it’s not clear what made him decide to leave at this time.

Although Cortana is integrated into Windows 10, it lacks a native smartphone audience.  Last year, Microsoft said that the virtual assistant has over 150 million users across its ecosystem, which includes Xbox, iOS, Android, and Windows 10.

Microsoft also has an SDK strategy to put Cortana on third-party device.  Currently, the distribution has been limited.  Both Microsoft and Amazon worked to make Cortana and Alexa interoperative, with mixed results so far.

Google has said that the Google Assistant is installed on more than 400 million devices.  Previously, Apple said that there are 500 million active Siri users around the world.  Amazon’s installed base of Alexa users exceeds 50 million.

Even though Microsoft is a leader in artificial intelligence and natural language processing, it has a distribution challenge with Cortana.  It’s unclear how many Cortana users there are on non-Microsoft platforms.

Although there are probably multiple individuals at Microsoft who can take the helm at Cortana. Soltero’s departure, however, may suggest a strategy shift for the company.

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