Cortana as Digital Assistant; Reasons of Sluggish Cortana Rollout

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By Judith Aparri | May 9, 2014 11:02 PM EST

When Microsoft launched Cortana to the digital world to join Siri and Google Now, it looks like handset buyers will have another option to think about when choosing a device that will assist them in their digital lives.

REUTERS/Bogdan Cristelo
The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013.

Cortana directly compete with Siri and Google Now in arranging travels and organizing contacts and appointments. Like a human assistant, it can take care of small but important helpful things in one's life, especially when one is buying or traveling.

Similar to a human assistant, Cortana summarizes news stories in the morning, set-up a "quiet time" that silences calls and texts except for preset contacts. Its Notebook feature can identify the user's favorite so she can be of help and has a sense of humor. She can tell a joke or seems to have a character as felt in her responses.

It makes a blend of the voice search that is of Siri's and the suggestions that Google Now can do. It can do both. It can tweak the settings of the phone and can track a flight's status. It has Siri's efficiency of processing commands and Google Now's search engine capabilities and the ability to foresee what the user needs.

Cortana is coming to China and UK with Windows Phone 8.1. Other countries will also see it soon. While Microsoft's new digital assistant is one of the highlights of Windows Phone 8.1, users from countries outside the U.S. are frustrated for not being able to experience the Microsoft equivalent of Apple's Siri. Corporate Vice-President Joe Belfiore of Microsoft said they are trying not to let other countries be too way behind the version 1 release.

The main reason of the seemingly sluggish release of Cortana is that Microsoft wants the best Cortana experience with their customers. They need to hone the WP Assistant first with different languages, accents and local searches. Microsoft will really let Cortana go global and have her travel worldwide this year.

Though still not available outside the U.S., Windows Phone Central gave steps on how to enable Cortana in one of their previous posts. By changing the Language Settings and region to English (U.S.) in a Windows Phone device, Cortana will appear among the apps' list and the user will have a bit of a Cortana experience. But these changes in language and region settings may have some adverse effects so this should only be considered a Cortana preview. The best thing to do is for users to wait for Cortana's arrival to their respective countries.

Belfiore said they are using the data coming from users outside the U.S. who were trying out Cortana to test the system, getting accents, checking on queries and determining where the data come from to help enhance the Cortana experience.

The good news is that Microsoft does not plan to limit Cortana to U.S. It doesn't want to make her purely "American." After the tests, it will go to China and UK, and to other countries like Canada and Australia.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Bogdan Cristelo / )
The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013.
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