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Is Microsoft Finally Planning a Siri-Like Feature for Windows Phone?

It appears Microsoft is planning a voice assistant for its Windows Phone platform after all. As Mary Jo Foley noted in her Redmond magazine column this month, Microsoft has spent the past decade working on natural language platform, though it has stepped up its effort over the past two years.

Since that column went to press, it appears she, along with Tom Warren of The Verge, unearthed information that points to a Siri-like voice assistant coming to Windows Phone early next year. In a post on her All About Microsoft blog last week, she said technology Microsoft has under development that goes by the code name "Cortana" aims to compete with Apple's Siri and Google's Now. 

While Windows Phone already understands basic voice commands, according to her sources Cortana, named for an artificially intelligent character from Microsoft's Halo game series, "will be able to learn and adapt, relying on machine-learning technology and the 'Satori' knowledge repository powering Bing."

In addition to Windows Phone, Foley learned Cortana could work itself into the core Windows and Xbox operating systems because Microsoft is adding it to its entire services-enabled "shell," -- the services Ballmer described in his July reorg letter.

Following her report, Warren learned Microsoft is testing the Cortana UI's ability to gather notifications, weather reports and calendar information. It also uses location information and has access to Bluetooth controls.

Whether you're a fan of voice assistants, or at least the concept of them, it appears all device makers will be focusing on advancing the technology sooner rather than later. If they get it right, as Google appears to have with its new Moto X phone, that can be a good thing, especially for those who can't seem to keep their hands off their devices.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/16/2013 at 2:59 PM


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