Microsoft To Tap Halo Franchise With 'Cortana' Siri Competitive Assistant For Windows Phone

After a leaked screenshot of a Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8.1 showed, among other things, an app called “zCortana”, many speculated that Microsoft was developing a personal digital assistant in the vein of Siri.

Nothing has happened since then to change that perception, and in fact whispers, rumors, and photos indicate that it’s coming along quite nicely and may be more than just Siri wannabe.

Cortana, Microsoft's code for its Siri competitor

Tom Warren posted a screenshot showing Cortana’s involvement with weather alerts, calendar synchronization, and an ability to pin others to your Start screen. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNET cited sources that say Cortana, though she will “interact” with users via voice commands, will be even more powerful than a Siri or a Google Now; powered by Bing’s knowledge repository “Satori”, Cortana will be part of the system’s shell.

Cortana will possibly be part of the “core services and experience” of more than Windows Phone, too, extending to Xbox One and even Windows.

Windows Phone 8.1 Cortana
Credit: Tom Warren

All that said, Microsoft has stated that it won’t release Cortana or anything like her until they have it ready for prime time. In other words, Cortana is too valuable an innovation and too complex an endeavor to push out quickly just to keep pace with Apple and Google.

Although we eagerly anticipate being able to play with Cortana, it’s wise for Microsoft to take a cautious approach to her release; the last thing Microsoft needs right now is another half-baked and unpopular product in the wild.