Cortana: Windows Phone 8.1's Killer App? - InformationWeek

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Cortana: Windows Phone 8.1's Killer App?
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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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3/5/2014 | 4:21:21 PM
The UI issues
I don't think of Siri first when I think of why people like the Apple user experience. Are you skeptical Cortana could overcome the reluctance of people to embrace the MS mobile UI, readers?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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3/5/2014 | 4:36:50 PM
Re: The UI issues
I'm sure Microsoft hopes Cortana will encourage more people to consider Windows Phone-- but there might be more to it than that.

At least some online chatter states Cortana will eventually become cross-platform, extending not just to the rest of the Windows ecosystem, but also to iOS and Android. If Cortana is actually better than Siri, a cross-platform version is interesting; just as Google is ostensibly trying to use Chrome to put a Trojan Horse inside Windows 8, Microsoft could use Cortana to put a Trojan Horse in iPhones. If Cortana is tied to a Microsoft ID, that encourages use of other Microsoft services-- calendars, documents, OneDrive, Skype, etc. I think Microsoft can live with the reality that a lot of people are going to continue to buy iPhones-- as long as Microsoft services are running on most of those iPhones. I suspect Cortana will be WP-exclusive for a while, just as Office has remained exclusive to Windows tablets. But I also expect Nadella will be more aggressive than Ballmer about pursuing cross-platform opportunities.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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3/5/2014 | 4:37:18 PM
Re: The UI issues
Siri will end up being more than a nice add-on. Voice interfaces are going to become much more common for the Internet of Things, if only to save the cost of building in touch displays. I don't expect Siri or Google Voice Search or Cortana to exhibit deep understanding any time in the next decade but I think voice interaction will become a popular way to communicate simple commands to computers.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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3/5/2014 | 4:44:53 PM
Re: The UI issues
True, anon-- Siri is fun but doesn't always work well. When Apple introduced Siri, I think most people assumed the tech would be a little further along by now. That's why the Microsoft execs' veiled boasting interests me. They play up this sort of "deep learning" predictive tech a lot-- enough to make me think they're confident they can step beyond what Apple and Google have already accomplished. The notion that Microsoft feels confident doesn't necessarily mean anything, given their recent missteps-- but still, all of the hinting has become intriguing.

I didn't mention it in the article, but Microsoft reps talk a lot about natural language technologies too-- which might mean Cortana will address some of the weaknesses you see in Siri (though the Xbox One suggests Microsoft isn't quite there). It's certainly possible Microsoft reps are hyping a product that will simply copy what Apple has already done. But if they're actually prepared to offer a smarter assistant that understands your requests and lives up execs' previous hints-- different story.

 


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