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Report: Microsoft Developing Siri-Like Feature for Windows Phone

Several media reports indicate Microsoft is planning a voice assistant for its Windows Phone platform.

In a recent column for Redmond magazine, veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley noted that Microsoft has spent the past decade working on a natural language platform, though it has stepped up its efforts over the past two years.

Since that column went to press, both Foley and The Verge's Tom Warren have reported on information that points to a voice assistant, similar to Apple's Siri for iPhones, coming to Windows Phone early next year.

In a post on her ZDNet blog last Thursday, Foley said that technology Microsoft has under development, code-named "Cortana," aims to compete with Siri and Google's Now. 

While Windows Phone already understands basic voice commands, according to Foley's sources, Cortana -- named for an artificially intelligent character from Microsoft's Halo game series -- "will be able to learn and adapt, relying on machine-learning technology and the 'Satori' knowledge repository powering Bing," Foley wrote.

In addition to Windows Phone, Foley learned that Cortana could work itself into the core Windows and Xbox operating systems because Microsoft is adding it to its entire services-enabled "shell" -- the services Ballmer described in his July reorg letter.

Following Foley's report, The Verge's Warren learned Microsoft is testing the Cortana UI's ability to gather notifications, weather reports and calendar information. It also uses location information and has access to Bluetooth controls, according to Warren's report.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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