Cortana changes for Surface Headphones (First version) FAQ

This FAQ covers Cortana changes for Surface Headphones (First version).

Here are some of the main changes in 2021:

  • When using your Surface Headphones with Android and iOS devices, you won’t be able to activate Cortana by saying “Hey Cortana” or by touching and holding the touchpad on either ear. This means you won’t be able to use Cortana to make calls, play music, or do other things, such as check the weather. If you reset your headphones and pair them again, you will still be able to touch and hold the touchpad on your Surface Headphones to activate the default personal assistant on your phone.

  • When using your Surface Headphones with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update or later installed on your PC, you won’t be able to use Cortana for certain functions, such as making a call or listening to music.

    However, you will still be able to touch and hold the touchpad on your Surface Headphones or say “Hey Cortana” to activate Cortana to do things like check your calendar, set a reminder, and add to your to-do lists. To use your voice to activate Cortana, voice activation must be turned on. To learn more, see Activate “Cortana” mode.

  • The Cortana mobile app has been retired on all supported platforms; so you won’t be able to use it to update your Surface Headphones and customize settings, such as change equalizer settings, turn touch controls on or off, or turn voice prompts on or off. Moving forward, download and use the Surface Audio app to change your settings and to install the latest updates for your Surface Headphones. The Surface Audio app is available in the following app stores:

Microsoft is on a journey to bring Cortana to Microsoft 365 experiences to help you stay connected and productive—efficiently and securely. We’re bringing seamless personal productivity assistant capabilities to the places you’re already working, like Windows 10, Outlook, and Microsoft Teams. As we make the shift to focus on where we believe an assistant will be most helpful for modern work, we’ve made some changes to certain Cortana capabilities. Part of this involved rethinking Cortana’s standalone mobile app and other integrations, like how users can access Cortana on their Surface Headphones. We greatly value our customers and these were tough decisions we did not take lightly.

Through deeper integration within Microsoft 365 in the future, we’re excited for what the future holds for Cortana and the productivity assistance it will provide. We have taken steps to minimize the inconvenience to customers.

Yes, if you reset your headphones and pair them again, you can still use the default personal assistant that’s used on your phone. To activate the default personal assistant using your Surface Headphones, tap and hold the touchpad on either ear.

Yes, while we’ll be removing support for the legacy version of Cortana, you’ll still be able to access some Cortana skills when you use your Surface Headphones with your Windows 10 PC. For example, you’ll still be able to say “Hey Cortana” or hold the touchpad on either ear to manage your calendar, tasks, and get answers to questions. You’ll also be able to listen to your emails in Outlook mobile on iOS and Android with Play My Emails.

We've spent a lot of time thinking through this transition and understand that these changes may be disruptive to some of our customers. But we look forward to continuing to innovate on ways Cortana can help you navigate your productivity so you can save time and focus on the things that matter most in your day.

You can download and install the Surface Audio app and use that to update your Surface Headphones and customize settings for them. The Surface Audio app is available in the following app stores:

Impacted customers in the U.S. can check the eligibility requirements for the Gift Card Program and submit a claim on the Gift Card Program for Surface Headphones (First version) Owners redemption website.
Microsoft is offering the opportunity to receive one promotional $25 Microsoft Store Online gift card per active Surface Headphones (First version). This Program is for the owner of the latest U.S. based Microsoft account used to set up the Surface Headphones (First version) that sent a voice request to the Cortana service after July 31, 2019. Program not valid for Surface Headphones acquired free of charge as part of a promotional offering or trial program for developers or employees. This offer is also not available outside the U.S. Gift card must be claimed before July 31, 2021, and promotional gift card spent within one year of redemption. For online purchases in the U.S. only. See full Gift Card Program Terms on the Gift Card Program for Surface Headphones (First version) Owners redemption website. 

Impacted customers in the U.S. can check the eligibility requirements for the Gift Card Program and submit a claim on the Gift Card Program for Surface Headphones (First version) Owners redemption website.
Microsoft is offering the opportunity to receive one promotional $25 Microsoft Store Online gift card per active Surface Headphones (First version). This Program is for the owner of the latest U.S. based Microsoft account used to set up Surface Headphones (First version) that sent a voice request to the Cortana service after July 31, 2019. Program not valid for Surface Headphones acquired free of charge as part of a promotional offering or trial program for developers or employees. This offer is also not available outside the U.S. Gift card must be claimed before July 31, 2021, and promotional gift card spent within one year of redemption. For online purchases in the U.S. only. See full Gift Card Program Terms on the Gift Card Program for Surface Headphones (First version) Owners redemption website.

You can find the serial number in a few different ways—in the Surface Audio app, on your Surface Headphones, as well as on the box. For more info about how to find the serial number, see Find the serial number on Surface devices.

If you claimed a Microsoft gift card for your Surface Headphones (First version) but are having difficulty using it at the Microsoft Store, including issues with expiration dates, use the Contact Us link at the bottom of the Gift Card Program for Surface Headphones (First version) Owners redemption website to send us an email. Make sure you're signed in with the same account you used Cortana with your Surface Headphones, and that the serial number for your Surface Headphones (First version) is included in the email. We can’t process your request without it.

We greatly value our customers, and the decision to remove certain Cortana functionality from Surface Headphones was a tough decision we did not take lightly. We are offering the gift card to show appreciation for our customers. In addition, we have worked to ensure our Surface Headphones customers will be able to still enjoy its premium quality sound through Bluetooth connectivity, without Cortana.

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