Microsoft recently announced Windows Phone 8.1, a new upgrade to the mobile OS that added a ton of new features, including a new virtual assistant named Cortana. Based of the Halo character, Cortana has a lot of unique interactions and features to help the user get through the day, alongside some of the contextual information available on Google Now.
Multiple reports say Microsoft will not keep Cortana exclusive to the Windows Phone platform and is actively looking for people who could advance Cortana into the next stage, most likely onto Windows 8.1 and other Microsoft platforms in the future. We already know Cortana will be a big feature on the smartwatch Microsoft is preparing this year.
Virtual Assistants As An Ecosystem
Every mobile ecosystem now has a virtual assistant, apart from BlackBerry which is virtually non-existent, with only around 2 percent of the OS market, compared to Windows Phone at almost 10 percent, iOS at 20 percent and Android at a huge 60 percent.
Virtual assistants don’t just offer a simple way for users to set appointments and use voice recognition instead of the touch-screen, they become ecosystems of the users accounts and take information from those accounts, offering contextual information at a useful time.
This sort of contextual information could be useful on the Web and PC, while mobile offers information on the fly, when getting back home and checking Cortana on the PC, it could show information about tomorrow’s appointments, details on orders, flights and possible financial information on how much you spent today.
The future for Cortana is bright if Microsoft keeps working on the service, we have seen Apple not focus on Siri and integrating the voice recognition service into their apps, whereas Google Now has been focused on heavily in recent Android updates and added to other Google platforms.
Microsoft needs to actively add new features to Cortana, allowing users to do all of their daily activities through the service. Jotting down notes, looking up reservations, checking how much they have spent, where they parked the car, should all be done on this one service.
This does mitigate other programs usefulness, but if Microsoft can successful integrate Cortana into third party applications before Google Now or Siri, it would be a huge benefit and might draw developer interest onto Windows Phone.
Cortana on the PC
The PC is still a prominent platform for Microsoft, even though the revenue from Windows 8 and 8.1 might be dwindling, we could see Microsoft move to a free OS in Windows 9 and work more heavily on cloud storage and Office 365 subscriptions.
Cortana would be a way to interconnect all of Microsoft’s different applications together, alongside approved third party apps. Instead of Cortana just being an assistant for your life, it could be an assistant for work, offering helpful documents at the right time. This is not available on the service now, but Cortana is only in its early stages.