Call Her Cortana: Microsoft’s Answer to Siri Set to Hit Windows Phone 8.1

By | March 3, 2014

Since Siri has been the only wide-used and generally available voice assistant in the world, it has been a great challenge for Apple competitors to offer a qualitative answer. Microsoft was one of those who decided to compete and it has just revealed its own voice assistant – Cortana. It is already available for Microsoft phones.

Cortana will act as Siri in most of situations, yet it has some unique features – for instance, you can create your own nickname and ask voice assistant to address you by it – a good option for those who love such things. Also, it will be able to send data directly to notebook, thus helping users to create notes without using their hands.

Cortana can also access data from different sources, such as Bing or to create notifications about future flights, plans from calendar, etc. This makes it a context-based system and brings its capabilities to another level.

Cortana’s visual representation will undergo significant simplification compared to its “Halo” counterpart. Rather than holographic avatars, it will feature a simple circular icon that animates during interaction. While there are reports suggesting a potential name change, Cortana—or whatever it’s called—will be unveiled at the Build conference alongside a developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1.
Retaining Cortana could offer Microsoft a halo effect in name recognition, potentially enticing Xbox fans away from iOS and Android devices to Windows Phone. This move could provide a much-needed boost to Windows Phone sales, tapping into the allure of a “science fiction future” and appealing to nearby markets like Xbox gamers.
However, it’s not solely about image; Microsoft must ensure Cortana offers user-friendly functionality and significant utility beyond novelty. While the “Halo” connection may attract users initially, Cortana’s value as a service will determine user retention. Only time will reveal Cortana’s market performance and its impact, if any, on Windows Phone sales.