Microsoft has hired former Apple Vice President of AI and head of the team responsible for Siri, Bill Stasior. Stasior's new title, as of August 2019, is Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Technology, and Stasior will be part of the office of Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott.
As originally reported by The Information, Stasior's new role is to help align technology strategies across the company. Kevin Scott, the former infrastructure chief of LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired in 2016, became Microsoft CTO in January 2017. Scott reports to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and is part of the Microsoft senior leadership team.
There's no mention in Stasior's LinkedIn profile about him working on Microsoft's rival to Siri, Cortana. Microsoft is trying to reconfigure Cortana's role, and there has been a bunch of shuffling in that group. Former Cortana Vice President Javier Soltero left the company in November 2018.
Stasior worked as the Vice President of Amazon Search and CEO of the Amazon Silicon Valley subsidiary A9.com from 2003 to 2012. From 2012 to 2019, he headed up the 11,000-strong team of developers, scientists, product managers and designers working on Siri, according to his LinkedIn profile. He 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 has been working for more than a year to reposition Cortana from a standalone assistant like Alexa and Google Assistant to more of an assistance aide. At Build this past spring, Microsoft officials showed off how Cortana is evolving to handle more complex queries, especially those that are productivity-focused.
Microsoft officials maintain the company isn't backing away from maintaining Cortana as a standalone personal digital assistant but is removing Cortana as an integrated part of Windows 10 and turning it into a separate app. Microsoft partner Johnson Controls also announced it is dropping Cortana support from its GLAS thermostat powered by Windows 10.