Microsoft working on Cortana – a rival to Siri and Google Now

by: Gary SimsSeptember 13, 2013


Windows 8.1 is coming to the desktop very soon and early in 2014 Windows Phone will also be updated to 8.1. There probably isn’t much of a connection between the two releases but at least Microsoft’s marketing looks consistent. One of the reported new features for Windows Phone 8.1 is Cortana, a virtual assistant to rival Siri and Google Now.

Cortana, which is named after an artificial intelligent character in Microsoft’s Halo series, will be powered by Microsoft’s “Satori” knowledge repository that is used by Bing. Apparently Microsoft has some grand plans for Cortana and she won’t be limited to just giving you weather updates on your Windows Phone. [quote qtext=”Our shell will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it. ” qperson=”Steve Ballmer” qsource=”” qposition=”left”]It is thought that the new technology (new for Microsoft that is) will be used in future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating system. Steve Ballmer hinted at Cortana’s role in his July strategy memo. In the memo he mentioned that Microsoft will be working on “a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell.” Later in the memo he said this shell would be “based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world.”

The fact that companies like Google, Apple and now Microsoft are developing new interactive technologies is brilliant, but I have one word of warning for Microsoft, consumers have developed high expectations about the quality and functionality of virtual assistants and it would be best for Redmond to ensure that it works well before releasing it. Otherwise they risk being ridiculed for years to come.

  • Balraj

    They will not pull it off

  • LovCona

    I expect a hologram to come with my next nokia!

    • ortega

      great, now I can ask random things to my phone
      “Cortana, who will be Steve Ballmer’s successor?”
      Cortana: “Either Steven Sinofsky or Alec Baldwin”

      • MrMagoo

        I pick Alec Baldwin!!!! The best actor in the world!!! And the leader of the Film Actors Guild!!

  • Hellz

    i think it will work well. i even hope they integrate their live translation technology i saw showcased a few years ago.( translating live conversations etc) if it all works and is implemented well( usable everyday unlike google now, at least in my part of the world) it might be just the thing that makes me switch to wp8

  • Luka Mlinar

    Come on Microsoft, non of that can revive WP. Redesign it from the ground up, remove the stupid tile UI and put icons. Make it easier for developers to make apps. FFS my mom could run the company better.

  • 1206549

    With Google’s knowledge base, I doubt it can catch up.
    As an example, compare the results of this search term on both Bing and Google.
    “That one Icelandic volcano that nobody can pronounce”.
    While you eventually find out the name in Bing, it mostly links to photography sites and not articles about the volcano itself.
    Meanwhile, Google manages to link to the Wikipedia page on the first or second result.
    I think search results reflect how a company’s AI can do because they most likely use the same database (I’m not sure if that’s what you call it but you get the idea)

    • MasterMuffin

      Do you follow Marques Brownlee or was that example just a coincidence?

      • A.M

        yea I Marques

      • 1206549

        Yeah I do.

        • MasterMuffin

          Good :)

  • Benjamin Pavel

    I don’t know what is with Microsoft but the always pick such hideous names for their product…Bing and now Cortana…bleh.

    • D’Ander McSullivan

      There’s nothing wrong with Cortana.

    • 1206549

      I personally like Cortana. Sounds better than Siri for me. Not sure if it works better.

      • mobilemann

        well to know, you would have to know how siri works, which you don’t. (your post history, sigh)

    • JosephHindy

      …not sure if sarcasm or serious?

      Cortana is a character in the popular Halo series (a video game franchise developed in great part by Microsoft). As long as they don’t half ass this and make it work really well, you’ll see a giant migration of Halo fans to the WP platform. IF <—–keyword! If They do it well.

    • JRushPro

      Cortana is the human-like A.I. who helps Master Chief in the game Halo.

  • Kevin Jung Hwang

    this is probably one of the smartest marketing move they’ve made

  • James Mercer

    This is cheap trick which, I have a feeling, will backfire when the hordes of Halo fans discover that their beloved character is being used as a cheap marketing trick.

    MS need to sit down and have a big think about innovation. They won’t win anything with smear campaigns and copied ideas.

  • OMGgary

    Possibly the first personal voice assistant that knows exactly where to go during an invasion by alien religious nutters, but seems to get Microlost very easily in peace time.

  • Carmichael Sherman

    Amazing cool, root my android and get this voice assistant than act like John 117. Love halo.

  • Hothfox

    I actually think it’s cool that they’re tying in one of their products (Halo) with another one (Windows Phone). I like the idea of calling it Cortana.

    At this point, I don’t know if they’re really going to catch up to anyone, maybe it’s more about providing the tool to their current users so they don’t leave for a phone with Google Now.

    (I am an Android user, and this won’t pull me away from it, but I still think it’s a nice idea.)

  • sasquacho

    2 years after Siri…

  • arcwindz

    Cortana? You’d better meet the expectation on that name microsoft

  • Jeldo Meppen

    “Otherwise they risk being ridiculed for years to come.” – Oh, i’d love that! <3