Talk of Microsoft and its ambitious plans for a digital assistant that will rival iOS' Siri and Android's Google Now is not something new. Quite the opposite, actually, we've been getting hints, on and off, since 2011. The reason for the delay is that the software giant wants to hold off rushing into the space – Microsoft wants it to be truly revolutionary. Of course, a statement like that does sound better than admitting that the idea has been riddled with numerous delays and reiterations of the software, but we'll have to wait to see which one it is.
Luckily for Windows Phone fanciers, the current status-quo is, reportedly, about to change, and soon. According to ZDNet, among others, Microsoft's Siri-like assistant will be called Cortana, the AI you're sure to remember if you have played Halo. The first few clues left behind by Microsoft were discovered in a Nokia Lumia 920, bought off eBay, which for some reason ran on a developer build of Windows Phone 8.1. Said build had a 'zCortanaApp' loaded, where the 'z' in front indicates that it's an early experimental version.
According to ZDNet's Mary Foley, Cortana will be at the core of a new “service-enabled shell” for Microsoft platforms, something that then CEO Steve Ballmer talked about in his July memo on Microsoft's reorganization. The idea is that Microsoft wants Cortana to do more than simply what we've come to expect from virtual assistants:
Ambitious. That is, if Cortana actually makes the cut and, indeed, makes an appearance in GDR3 – the next major WP update.
Early version of Cortana