Microsoft ‘Cortana’ Assistant To Be Driven By Foursquare, Windows 8 Update Boots To Desktop On Non-Touch Machines

There’s a good bit of scuttlebutt circulating about the upcoming update to Microsoft’s operating systems--both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1--and all of it sounds juicy.

For starters, there’s more evidence that Microsoft will roll out an AI assistant called Cortana (named after the Halo character) for Windows Phone. A person Bloomberg cited as “familiar with the matter” said that Microsoft has invested $15 million in Foursquare Labs in order to gain access to deeper Foursquare data that will allow Cortana to give users more location-based tips, suggestions, and more.

“We’re building some contextually aware experiences to power some upcoming products in Windows Phone,” said Zig Serafin, a vice president in Microsoft’s Bing search unit. “This will be for anywhere you get a Bing-powered experience.”

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Windows 8.1 Update 1 (Credit: Tom Warren/The Verge)

There’s also a leaked version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 that The Verge confirms will offer the highly sought after boot-to-desktop function--except that it will only work for non-touch devices. That makes sense, as the Windows 8 Metro interface was conceived with touch devices in mind, while non-touch users prefer the traditional desktop mode.

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Windows 8.1 Update 1 (Credit: Tom Warren/The Verge)

Other reported changes coming to Windows 8.1 with Update 1 include:

-A shutdown option from the Start Screen (probably only on non-touch devices)
-A new title bar above Windows 8-style apps
-”Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar” option
-A disk space option in Settings
-OneDrive branding over the previous SkyDrive name
-On non-touch devices, pictures and audio files open by default in Windows Photo Viewer and Windows Media Player, respectively, instead of in Metro apps