Microsoft New Personal Assistant ‘Cortana’ to Give ‘Siri’ a Run For Its Money

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By Pavithra Rathinavel | April 3, 2014 11:58 PM EST

Microsoft has recently announced Cortana, its very own version of Windows Phone 8.1's personal assistant, touted as the "Siri Killer" in the Developer Conference held in San Francisco. 

REUTERS/Microsoft/Handout via
Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, is seen in this undated Microsoft handout photograph released on February 4, 2014.

With Cortana, Windows Phone finally becomes a true competitor of iOS and Android platforms. Its technology is similar to Siri.

According to Microsoft, Cortana is more personal assistant than Siri. It has the ability to learn about the users and assist them individually while Siri is built for everyone. Cortana can give individuals a very personal and customized attention.

Joe Belifore, Microsoft's corporate VP of Windows Phone said, "We believe Windows Phone is the world's most personal smartphone."

Notably, Cortana is powered by Bing.  As reported, Cortana is launching in the U.S. with a beta version.

As far the usage goes, Cortana can schedule appointments, set alarms and find hotels and restaurants. Cortana can send "contextual reminders" or the ability to trigger actions based on events.  For example, it can remind the user to ask a friend about her new puppy the next time the user talks to her, Mashable cited.

Touted to be one of the powerful apps, Cortana impresses even with basic search queries.

Cortana's Standout Features

According to The Verge, "If you search for 'What is the best restaurant near me,' you will not get a long list of results like you see in Siri, instead you will get a single restaurant that is rated the best in the area by Yelp users."

Rob Chambers, principal group program manager of Bing joked, "If you asked a real assistant, 'What is the best restaurant' and if he/she comes up with a list & hand it to you, you would fire him/her."

If you ask for "the best restaurants," then you can expect a list. This is how intelligent Cortana understands voice queries and their context.

If you say "give me directions" after asking for the best restaurant, Cortana understands that you are asking for the directions to the best restaurant by connecting the former query to the current request. Microsoft has made Cortana truly personal. 

This intelligence of Cortana is made possible by multistep search, a way to layer query over query (nested queries) to accomplish intricate chores by voice commands, Verge cited.

Release Date

The software update for all the new introductions will be rolling out to existing Windows Phone users in the next couple of months. The new devices will begin to ship by late April, according to Belifore.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Microsoft/Handout via / )
Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, is seen in this undated Microsoft handout photograph released on February 4, 2014.
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