More Information On Microsoft’s Next-Gen Personal Assistant ‘Cortana’


Yesterday, we saw a sudden burst of information about Microsoft’s next generation personal assistant codenamed ‘Cortana’. First, there was a report that Microsoft is planning to release it as part of Windows Phone 8.1 and it will take on Apple’s Siri. Later, there were some screenshots of the early prototype of Cortana running on a Windows Phone 8 device. The screenshots revealed that Cortana is more than a speech assistant, it takes lots of contextual data like location, wifi network, weather, calender appointments, etc to assist you.

Cortana will be able to learn and adapt over time as it is relying on machine-learning technology and the “Satori” knowledge repository which now powers Bing.

Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet reports that Cortana is not just a Windows Phone app, instead it is a shell that will span across Windows PCs, Tablets, Phones and Xbox. She reported the below to explain it.

Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire “shell” — the core services and experience — of the future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating systems, from what I’ve heard from my contacts. In Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s strategy memo from July about Microsoft’s reorg, there were hints about Cortana. Ballmer mentioned that Microsoft will be working, going forward, on “a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell.”

That “shell” is more than just the Metro/Modern/tiled interface. Ballmer continued:

“Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it.”

The coming shell won’t simply surface information stored on users’ phones, PCs and consoles like a search engine can do today. It also will “broker information among our services to bring them together on our devices in ways that will enable richer and deeper app experiences,” Ballmer said in his memo. (That “brokering” is handled by Bing’s Satori, which intelligently interconnects entities, i.e., information about people, places and things.)

I’m more excited about this thing. Do you?

Read more from the links below.

Source: ZDNet, WMPoweruser (1), (2)

  • Davey

    The ONLY thing that will make this especially cool is if they use Jen Taylor’s voice!!!
    That would be a huge marketing hook.

  • nohone

    Can’t wait until we see the Surface commercials, with Cortana and Siri talking to each other. Hopefully Cortana has an animated, Xbox like avatar, interacting with the user, and teaching Siri a thing or two.

  • CanGueler

    If Microsoft gets this right , it could be the big thing Windows Phone needs to be “cool” among the younger

    • cr_buck

      I think leaving the name Cortana would help get the attention. It would be sweet if they could somehow pull off the abilities of Cortana but realistically I think we are still decades off from AI like that.

  • Mikado_Wu

    Microsoft Needs a Big Marketing gimmick…this really could be It.
    If Microsoft uses Cortana and Jens Voice, this will sell MILLIONS of Devices.
    But if they Change the Name and Voice…. NO ONE WILL CARE.
    Read this Microsoft…. IT MUST BE CORTANA and JEN.

    • Sean D.

      Why does everyone think they “know what Microsoft needs”?

  • Yuan Taizong

    this has a lot of potential with not just Windows Phone, but also Windows, if this will only work half as well as it does on the Microsoft Kinect 2 (which has already produced a mind-reading beer robot, that’s not a joke, Bing it), it could eventually grow into a real actual Cortana (as in Microsoft’s Halo), I really hope that the execution and development won’t dissapoint us, I have really high hopes for this.

    And I really hope that Microsoft will use the Cortana name and Jen Taylor’s voice, that would be awesome.

  • Vincent Haakmat

    As long as they don’t change the name to Windows Phone Voice Management Gateway or some other stupid name they like to name their final products. I guess the only name that they got right was.. XBOX

    • Tom V.

      i think surface is cool too.

    • nickcraze

      Surface is way better than iPad and if you think iPad is better keep smoking that crack. Also Windows is perfect name for the OS, MS Office, Zune, Bing. They have gotten quite a few names right.

  • Philippe Wechsler

    even if its perfectly implemented I am not interested in this! I don’t want to talk with my phone, especially not in the public. Apple’s siri is also only marketing blah, I’ve never seen anybody using this feature. The same will go here. It is not about how good to implement such a feature. There is just no real world need for any voice control!

    • Tom V.

      it’s more than just voice activated responses. you can type to her as well as she acts as a universal tool within the phone (at least that’s what i gather from what i’ve read)

    • dotcompt

      Not a fan also of talking to my phone in public, it’s ridiculous but there’s a lot of potential in car mode.

    • Sean D.

      I use it all the time on my L925. Because sometimes It’s WAY easier to say “call so-n-so on speaker” than it is to navigate to their contact info, or to the phone.

    • bawboh

      This is way more than voice control. Think Google Now integration that spans across all devices. With Google Now, you can say (or type) “Remind me to buy Ibuprofen the next time I’m at Wal-Mart.” Then, Now will pick up when you drive into a Wal-Mart parking lot and pop up a reminder to buy Ibuprofen. THAT’S what this is, but with ANYTHING Windows AND it’ll learn from your habits as you use it more.

  • lansky1213

    This could be exactly the gimmick MS needs to really get the ball rolling. It need s to be cooler than Seri and just as useful as google now. And I really hope I dnt have to talk to it like a robot for it to understand me.

  • Ruben Verbaan

    It is exciting, I love the look, feel and name of this. But!! Don’t make the same mistakes as Google did. People do care about their privacy.

  • magicrobots


  • cr_buck

    Microsoft Bob 2.0 R2 for the Microsoft Lumia 1150 with Windows Phone 8.1 GDR3

  • DarthTigris

    Not enough info at this point for me to be excited. Curious, though.