What started out as a Windows Phone feature is about to become ubiquitous, and possibly Microsoft's biggest innovation in a while. Cortana, the voice assistant similar to iOS's Siri, is headed to your desktop and possibly other smartphones.
Microsoft introduced the digital voice assistant on Windows Phone 8.1 back in early April, and since then has been refining the service and slowly rolling it out globally. Up to now, it's only been on Windows Phone.
Over the weekend, Marcus Ash, the group program manager working on the Cortana project, fired off a series of tweets that showed Microsoft is planning to port Cortana to the desktop, once they get it working properly on Windows Phone.
All told, Ash sent out 10 tweets, numbered, discussing Cortana. The first three focused on Windows Phone. Starting with number four, it got interesting.
Considering that tweet number nine talked about the next four months of Windows Phone upgrades for Cortana, it's doubtful Cortana will be in Windows 8.1. With Windows 9 in the works for next year, that would seem the logical choice to introduce the assistant. Hopefully I can change its name to Samantha.
Ash also fueled the notion of Cortana on iOS and Android. He appeared at the SMX Advanced show and was asked about bringing Cortana to iOS and Android, even though they have Siri and Google Now, respectively.
"We want to scale Cortana internationally and across devices. The Android/iOS question is interesting. We're asking, would Cortana be as effective if she didn't have access to the details on your phone? We're still trying to get Cortana adopted on Windows Phone and figure out what it wants to become there. But we're actively talking about this," he said.
So he was non-committal, but open to the idea. All Microsoft needs to do now is execute. Just because it has been eating Apple's and Google's dust in some areas does not mean it can't come back or excel. I've found the Bing Translator to be far more accurate than Google Translate, especially with Asian languages, and those are a real challenge.