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Say hello to Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri and Google Now killer

Cortana Halo Character Picture

We’ve been covering the latest news of Windows Phone, with the leaks of the Nokia Lumia 1520, GDR3 – aka Bittersweet Shimmer, and Windows Phone 8.1, which is also known as Windows Phone Blue. But one thing we have yet to cover is a new feature rumored to come with Windows Phone 8.1, called “Cortana”.

Cortana is Microsoft’s “revolutionary” assistant technology. Although we do have a voice command system built in, it’s time Microsoft improved on it to have competition with Siri and Google Now. According to other Microsoft execs, this technology would not be available to users until they finalize every bit of it, so it will be most likely between 2014 and 2016.

If you ever played Halo, you would recognize the name “Cortana”. Cortana is named after a Halo character that knew everything. According to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet, “Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire “shell” — the core services and experience — of the future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating systems.”

While we have to rely on leaks only, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has hinted that Microsoft will be working on “a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell.” He continues, “Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it.”

Ballmer later on says in his memo that this shell will also be a “broker information among our services to bring them together on our devices in ways that will enable richer and deeper app experiences.” Ballmer has been touting publicly how users will be able to use voice assistant technology for all their devices. An example would be telling your PC to “print my boarding pass on Southwest” and then their systems would automatically jump into action.

Cortana will be made up of several services combined into one. It would pack Bing’s information, TellMe speech recognition technology, and “natural-language-plus-social-graph concoction.” To view screenshots of Cortana, head on over here.

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