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Microsoft Creates Answer to Apple's Siri?


According to a report from ZDNet, Microsoft will be bringing the character Cortana from "Halo" to life as a cross-platform virtual assistant.


According to a report published earlier today by ZDNet, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is supposedly developing a cross-Windows virtual assistant named Cortana. As anyone who has ever played the Xbox Halo series knows, Cortana is the AI assistant, a hologram, who helps the protagonist, Master Chief, progress through the game. Moreover, she is a unique and complex character with her own backstory.

Halo is an incredibly popular series, having sold 55.1 million copies, and this project would definitely expand its influence even further. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley described Cortana as a virtual assistant akin to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri or Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Now, except that Cortana will not be confined to smartphones. The real-life virtual assistant version of Cortana will work across all the various Windows platfroms, including computers running Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Surface tablets.

Back in July, CEO Steve Ballmer hinted at something like Cortana in a memo, describing a cross-platform user interface that would be "deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world."

For the project, Microsoft is using the Satori relational technology that is behind its search engine Bing in conjunction with speech recognition technologies from TellMe, a subsidiary of the company.

If we actually do see a Cortana unifying Windows platforms, it won't be until late next year at the earliest, but it will most likely be more like 2015 or 2016. Such a digital assistant could be a killer app for Microsoft as apps and technology become more and more connected. And, if Microsoft is working on it, it is probable that Apple and Google are working on something similar. They, however, won't have the ability to choose a character from an in-house and popular video game series to bring to life.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
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