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Windows Phone's “Cortana” to compete with Siri and Google Now

Posted: , by Chris P.

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Windows Phone's “Cortana” to compete with Siri and Google Now

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:

"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."

Ambitious. That is, if Cortana actually makes the cut and, indeed, makes an appearance in GDR3 – the next major WP update.

source: ZDNet, TheVerge, Microsoft

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posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:23 24

1. Penywyz (banned) (Posts: 255; Member since: 13 Aug 2013)

Being a massive Halo fan this is epic. If they use the same voice actor from the video games, and bring along the app support I'm sold.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:51 13

7. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3767; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)

WP is surely growing by the day.
I'm not sure if the older version of Lumias will support it but it feels like Microsoft was waiting to acquire Nokia and then hit it with everything they've got.
I believe there's more coming.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:47 10

13. 1v1addict (Posts: 17; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)


posted on 12 Sep 2013, 12:57 2

21. clevername (Posts: 1436; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


posted on 12 Sep 2013, 11:42 1

17. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4833; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Yeah I have to agree. This is pretty cool. This is the coolest feature on WP period.

How long until Android gets a crack at this. I would love my Google Now to sound like Cortana, for sure.


posted on 12 Sep 2013, 11:58 2

18. Dr.Phil (Posts: 1163; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)

It does look like a very cool feature and one that I can say I'm very excited to see the end result. Over a year ago I commented on this site that I wanted to see a voice assistant UI similar to something like a 343 Guilty Spark (what can I say? I'm a fan of the little blue hovering orb). Even though this isn't exactly that, I'm still very excited to see a voice assistant UI that people are familiar with and would enjoy listening to.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 12:28

19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4833; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Exactly, I would also like my Voice Assistant to sound like Optimus Prime, Lara Croft, Chubacca, (Yeah I understand him), Woodstock, Scoobie Doo & Vegeta from DBZ. Ohh and Mordecai also. lol

That would be so cool, if I could change voice on the fly so I could customize yet another aspect of my phone.

+1 for a GREAT POINT!

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 16:03 1

27. a_merryman (Posts: 749; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)

I'm in for GlaDOS, thats all I need. I guess it would be fun to have Indiana Jones or Jack Sparrow....but I'd rather have an "AI" take over as my voice assistant, with all her snarky comments included.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 12:34

20. designerfx (Posts: 76; Member since: 26 Mar 2013)

nobody buys windows phones, so this doesnt' mean much.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 18:13 2

28. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2275; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)

Cool story bro

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:28 12

2. makoskn (Posts: 4; Member since: 12 Sep 2013)

You have caught my attention Microsoft now please make this happen!

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:31 9

3. CardiWPfan (Posts: 129; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)

Exactly, what I was going to bring up!! You beat me to that request my friend. Step aside Google and Apple, this is what competition is all about. If Microsoft is going to do what I think it is going to do. This is going to be EPIC!! SHUT UP AND BRING ON CORTANA ALREADY!!

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:31 11

4. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)

cool, cortana sounds cooler than Google now and siri, I hope it works just as good, windowsphone needs all the features and apps it can get

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:31 2

5. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)

Nerdgasm. I probably wouldn't use it but that would be a great way to capture the attention of any HALO fan. Best of all, gamers are not averse to spending money for new goodies, so it could lead to more phone sales.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 09:46 4

6. chunk1x (Posts: 248; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)

But Cortana died. So, who the hell is this? :D

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:45

11. 1v1addict (Posts: 17; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)

Maybe Cortana will return, else why use a dead characters name as a new product name ?

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 13:03 2

22. clevername (Posts: 1436; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)

Just to keep a beloved character alive

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:00 3

8. MalakiMills (Posts: 257; Member since: 15 Jun 2010)

Halo was the only video game I went out and picked up at midnight, if I could have cortana talk to me from my phone I might just freak out.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:03 3

9. papss (unregistered)

Huge halo fan so this excited me very much. Way to use what you have m$

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:43

10. Sauce (unregistered)

Until she kills you in your sleep

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:46 1

12. frydaexiii (Posts: 1443; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)

I call Halo Edition Lumia...Damn, never thought I'd say this but, if the voice is even remotely like Cortana, I would buy that...for a dollar

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 10:58 1

14. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

That name is wicked awesome, but on a side note I think the need to release it as soon as next version, yeah they are trying to make it really awesome but competition is not standing still, they are getting lots of feedback and adding features based on such feedback thus improving the current version of Google now and siri (at least Google now is about 10 times better than it used to be, and with the 800 allowing a always listen and a7 chip dedicated processor could mean better siri eventually) they need it fast

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 11:19 1

15. MojoDojo (Posts: 102; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)

Its not coming in the GDR3 update, but in WP 8.1 aka "Blue".

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 11:36

16. tedkord (Posts: 11689; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Then CEO?

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 13:05 1

23. clevername (Posts: 1436; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)

This would be amazing. Good quad core for speed and cloud computing for natural language. Integrated in windows 8, and Xbox one through Kinect and ill be a slave

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 13:53 1

24. volcano (Posts: 348; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)

+100000 for cortana
i hope its more intelligent assistant than siri or google now

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 15:54

25. a_merryman (Posts: 749; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)

I still want Apple or Google to release a voice pack that sounds like GladOS for theirs. Thats not too much I think.

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 15:56

26. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)

Why Cortana? Not to wreck the fun, but it sounds like a horrible brand name, ugh, keep it in Halo, not Windows Phone

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 18:17

29. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2275; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)

Nicee.. very good.. and i will like mine, to sound like a , porn actress,, she'll be like "today is sunny, with a slight chance of horny" in a sexy tone :-D hahaa

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 19:53

30. Synack (Posts: 677; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)

First command I would say: "Cortana, call me Chief"

Now everytime an interaction would occur she would keep calling me Chief just like in Halo!

posted on 12 Sep 2013, 21:39

31. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 2060; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


posted on 13 Sep 2013, 09:46

32. TritonForceX (Posts: 60; Member since: 27 Sep 2012)

Come on Google. I know you would be the company to redesign Google Now to integrate either Star Trek's computer, or better yet, integrate K.I.T.T. to the phone. That would be awesome, but I'm also a 32-yr-old geek and the younger people are probably not sure what I'm talking about.

But still, Google, a car mode where you ask "K.I.T.T., send a text to Devon and play Iron Maiden!" Or, "K.I.T.T., take me to the best place to eat nearby." Having the voice lights and all on the screen.

Ok, I'm finished geeking out.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 09:26 1

33. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

If she appears from the phone to provide me answers then sign me up.

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