More Details On Microsoft’s Cortana: Can She Top Siri?

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is preparing its digital personal assistant, “Cortana” — which will compete with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri — to be included in the Windows Phone 8.1 update that’s rumored to be coming this spring. This will be the first major update to Windows Phone since Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) handset division.

Rumors about Cortana have been making the rounds for the past couple of months, but this week, sources familiar with Cortana spoke to The Verge and offered some more details about the functions of the assistant, which is named after a character in the popular Xbox game Halo. Cortana will replace the Bing search function currently available on Windows Phone 8.1.

Cortana will be similar to Siri in that she is a female assistant that will develop her own personality over time. Users can assign Cortana to refer to them either by their real names or as a nickname. Cortana will also have some functions similar to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google Now, including taking information from emails — such as flight details — and adding it to a user’s calendar. Cortana will work alongside Microsoft’s Notebook app to keep track of information on a user’s location, personal info, reminders, contacts, and any other data on a phone.

Previous reports have suggested that Cortana will be included in the Xbox One video game console and the next update of Windows, in 2015, after its release for the Windows Phone. Good news for Siri haters: Cortana could even be available on Apple’s iPhone through the Bing app. Cortana’s natural language processing abilities will likely be powered by Bing’s Satori knowledge base, similar to the way that Siri is powered by Wolfram Alpha.

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