More details on Microsoft's Siri-like digital assistant Cortana

Windows Phone 8.1 update will include new voice-control search functionality, according to new report; could it also come to Xbox One?

Image credit: The Verge

According to a new report today from The Verge, the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will introduce Microsoft's long-rumored "Cortana," a digital assistant that will rival Siri and Google Now. Sources provided images of the interface and details about how the service will work, stating that it will replace the currently built-in Bing search.

Of course, gamers will recognize the "Cortana" name from the Halo series. In those games, Cortana is an artificial intelligence character who appears in holographic form, but on Windows Phones, Cortana will reportedly take the form of a circular animated icon (above) that will animate while speaking or thinking.

Similar to Siri, Microsoft's Cortana will reportedly allow Windows Phone users to determine how they want to be addressed, either by your real name or a nickname. The Verge's sources also note that a key component of Cortana is its ability to save information like location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information to a Notebook system. The Cortana system is also reportedly capable of tracking flights and various email services and can generate notifications to users.

It's unclear if Cortana is the final name for Microsoft's new technology, but the company is expected to formally announce the service at its upcoming Build conference in April. It is also unknown if Microsoft will roll out the Cortana service on consoles like the Xbox 360 or Xbox One, but according to a past report, that's exactly what the company is planning to do.

The Cortana technology will reportedly allow users to ask questions and see results in real-time. In an Xbox context, players could ask, "What are my friends playing?" and their friends list would appear. The service is supposedly going to be voiced by none other than Cortana voice actor Jen Taylor.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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69 comments
wallacom
wallacom

I suspect this will make me hate Cortana.

deth420
deth420

if its like the movie "her," i may be in.

Trev9421
Trev9421

This kinda seems gimmicky naming it after a character in Halo. Other than that, it seems like every other digital assistant that people use for a week then never touch because it takes more time than the normal way.

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

Me: "Where is the nearest super market?"
Cortana: "I am your shield, I am your soul."
Me: Huh?"
Cortana: "I know you. Your past, your future."
Me: "Wait what?"
Cortana: "This is the way the world ends."
Me: "So where is the super market?"

FULGOREY2K
FULGOREY2K

Dave: cortana, open messages

Cortana: i need your credit card info or gold account for that

Marky360
Marky360

Gotta say this is cool stuff I'd likely buy a Win phone in order to use this although let me make it clear I don't have a smart phone as of right now so its not like I'd go out and switch from my current phone to a win phone just for this its just that since I don't have a phone now and am in the market for one I wouldn't mind getting a win phone. I love Halo and Cortana is awesome so yea I'd love this plus I have Siri on my iPad and I hate her.

Hurvl
Hurvl

"Ask me anything" it says in that little square box at the bottom of the screen. If it doesn't know the answer I'd like it to respond "When I said ask me anything, I didn't mean ask me anything".

angrycreep
angrycreep

I can't see how this would end up been a failure, for some people think of siri like their wife. Cortana would work for phones, but the jury still out in consoles. I personally don't have any problems if they put it in Xbox one. If they do it right it would be a great future to have in Xbox One.

bourne714
bourne714

Now this is a good idea.  Pair this with the ability to play most XBL games like Mark of the Ninja and Trials evolution and you have a system seller.

SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

If they had mikasa ackerman I'd buy that phone in a second

ECH71
ECH71

I would love Tricia Helfer's or Jules De Jongh's voice as my Siri... but then confessedly I'd only be using the assistant to hear the soothing voice, not because I need anything.

rasterror
rasterror

I bet if it works well and is successful there's gonna be a Sony version. I wonder what her name would be though.

Pewbert
Pewbert

"Cortana, will you google something for me?"

"Don't you mean Bing?"

"No"

banana23man
banana23man

The last time I saw someone use Siri was the day after Siri was released. I foresee the same sort of popularity with cortana

allever
allever

Don't really like the Cortona name... I do love the idea of being able to talk to the assistant.  If it works well and catches on, more things may have this "feature" added.. and soon enough it will be like in Star Trek TNG.

Citizen_King
Citizen_King

Disclaimer:  Will think itself insane in a finite number of years.

believe_truth
believe_truth

I don't have a windows phone but this is awesome. So cool they named it cortana. Good to see they have a sense of humor!

charlesswann
charlesswann

Lol .. who has a windows phone.  Wait maybe the same people who have the bone.

brxricano
brxricano

For those that want to ask if its cold in Moscow right now....*facepalm*

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Wish I hadn't just purchased an iphone5.

My next phone will be a Nokia. They are made in the US, good quality, and perfect match for my Xbox One.

mr_nee
mr_nee

MS? Really? Moscow? Now? 

shipster30
shipster30

I'd get this if I was able to change the voice of the thing. Can we have some Pierce Brosnan or some Shaq talking to us? I'd think that would make it way more fun than some random lady or guy's voice giving boring voice commands.

immortality20
immortality20

And now brace yourself for hundreds of fanboys who hate MS and will jump on anything to complain/insult about.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

So after all this time Microsoft managed to copy Siri? Microsoft sure is good at copying successes of others

rmiller365
rmiller365

Why is Microsoft blowing this up when all other mobile phones and tablets have done this for a while now? The Kinect only works half the time anyway so what's the big deal? 

nbf4548
nbf4548

I hope to God that Apple and Microsoft both have teams of people working on improving the accuracy of voice recognition.  It's almost worthless at present.  

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

Needy Cortana nagging me in real life like she did to poor Master Chief?  Just shoot me now.

angrycreep
angrycreep

@anonymousicko  Don't like  Nokia, but I do like my Xbox One, 360, PS3, PS4 and my other 25 consoles that I have. Quit with the hate and grow up kid.

kingkoopa009
kingkoopa009

@rasterror  doubt it considering for the most part google now does since sony runs android which is garbage 

Hurvl
Hurvl

@rasterror Perhaps it will be a he: 

Kratos, smash my ignorance and give me the power of knowledge by telling me where the nearest Pizza Hut is.

ECH71
ECH71

@Pewbert  I like how Chandler Bing's postis right beneath yours.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@believe_truth Perhaps it's more a PR move than an indication of a sense of humor. MS is hardly seen as an angel, their Halo is a bit askew, you could say.

Knives98
Knives98

@brxricano  What if I'm planning a trip to Russia in the next few minutes?  Bet you never thought of that.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@Sevenizz  useless console + useless phone = match made in Redmond

evil_m3nace
evil_m3nace

@Sevenizz  Made in the US? Which ones? Definitely not the High end models Like the Lumia 1020.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@immortality20  i'm sorry, but you got the concept of fanboys all worng. It's consist of two words "fan" and "boy". Fan means you like it not hate it!

kingkoopa009
kingkoopa009

@abcdefgabcdefgz  no actually we made cortana better than siri as far as commands go tellME was great and at release did things like google couldnt do til recently or even siri that what was made them step there game up

kingkoopa009
kingkoopa009

@mr_nee @Sevenizz  yea obviously u never owned a windows phone try the nokia 1520 or the icon and see how well they still run after almost 2 years of use like my nokia 920 best phone assembled 

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Ever think that maybe you're an idiot?

Microsoft hate went out with the 90s - sorry you missed the boat.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Moto X and Lumina are assembled in Texas.

rasterror
rasterror

You've never been on this site have you? Sony fanboys run rampant on Xbox articles.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@mr_nee in this context, fanboy more likely refers to Sony fanboys, not MS fanboys

rmiller365
rmiller365

@Gatman32 @rmiller365  

I want my 95% rate. Google Now work almost flawlessly on my phone and I usually have to say commands two or three times before Kinect works even after the update. I'm sure in a year it will be much better but for now its not worth it for me.   

kingkoopa009
kingkoopa009

@rmiller365 @Gatman32  TellMe is better than kinect in recognition but u still have to give it commands but as far as recognizing what you said its great