Microsoft's Cortana  (Source:
We may see Cortana as early as 2014 or as late as 2016

Microsoft is working on a personal assistant for its future Windows Phones, Windows OS and the Xbox One console, and it's said to be a deeply integrated tool rather than just a single service.

Microsoft's personal assistant is named Cortana, after an artificially intelligent character in Microsoft's "Halo" series. 

Microsoft has been talking about launching a personal assistant since 2011 that would compete with the likes of Apple's Siri. But Microsoft wants Cortana to be much more than just a personal assistant -- it wants to make the assistant technology a key part of the entire "shell" of core services and experience on Windows Phones, Xbox One and Windows OS. 

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called it "a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell." That's where Cortana comes in. Cortana will have the ability to learn and adapt; and will use Microsoft Bing, Tellme speech technology, natural language software and social graph software to tap into every services and experience area of the device.

"Our UI will 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," said Ballmer back in July. "Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."

It's not real clear when Cortana will make a debut. Some reports are saying as early as the Blue release in early 2014 while anonymous Microsoft executives say sometime between 2014 and 2016. 

Bing officials had said that Microsoft is waiting to release a "revolutionary" device to debut Cortana's abilities. 

Microsoft recently purchased Nokia's devices and services division for $7.2 billion, which could help expedite Cortana's release. 

Source: ZDNet

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