Cortana wins World Cup glory with an (almost) unblemished record

Germany won the FIFA World Cup last night in a tense final against Argentina that saw the game run into extra time, before Mario Götze scored an absolutely beautiful goal that sealed his nation's victory. It was a stunning end to a brilliant tournament but, as we have previously discussed, there was another winner in the World Cup who earned plenty of glory, albeit off the pitch. 

We're talking, of course, about Cortana which, by the end of last week, had accurately predicted 14 out of 14 winners in the knockout rounds. Microsoft's digital assistant on Windows Phone 8.1 managed a stunning performance, impressing many, including some on rival smartphone platforms who heard of its remarkable predictions from friends and on social media. 

Sadly, Cortana did not end the World Cup with an entirely unblemished record. In Friday night's match between Brazil and The Netherlands - to decide the third and fourth places in the tournament - Cortana favoured the South American team for victory, but it was the Netherlands that triumphed, beating the Brazilian team 3-0, and ending the digital assistant's unbroken run of correct predictions. One observer suggested that Microsoft had not accounted for Brazil simply "giving up" on the game. 

Cortana's predictions are powered by Microsoft's Bing prediction engine. The company's Brandon LeBlanc explained that it "looks at the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous wins/losses/ties in qualification matches, other international competitions and margin of the victories in these competitions. Then other adjustments are made related to other factors that might give a team advantages over others like home field advantage (for Brazil), proximity (for South American teams like finalist Argentina), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other factors."

Overall, Bing had a less impressive record in the earlier group stages of the competition, with around 60% accuracy, before the number of teams had been narrowed down to a more manageable and predictable number. The predictions were only available to Cortana users for the last 16 games of the World Cup, although they were previously accessible to users via Bing.com. 

Of course, even the most seasoned experts get it wrong sometimes, but Cortana correctly predicted that Germany would defeat Argentina in the final, resulting in a final core of 15 out of 16 accurate forecasts for Microsoft - not bad at all. 

LeBlanc added that it was "pretty amazing we were able to enable the prediction behavior in Cortana in just a week and have it light up on people's Windows Phone 8.1 devices. We're excited to be able to do more of these types of things with Cortana in the future." 

We're pretty excited too, and we can't wait to see what other amazing things Cortana can do. 

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23 Comments

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I was impressed with MSFT world cup coverage. From the xbox one app to the bing and cortana integration. Given how MSFT is famous for not caring for anything outside the US, it is a welcomed change.

For 2018 they should stream some games from XB1 and increase on the extra value delivered by real time apps. Soccer is a huge deal on planet earth and the console that can better capitalize on its popularity will no doubt reap the benefits.

Might be a Seattle thing. The Sounders make these people unusually fond of soccer compared to the rest of the country.

Microsoft paid Argentina to lose, in order to promote Cortana and Windows Phone. /s

I was confident Germany would win (having watched about half of the matches). I guess millions of others wrote the same thing on other forums/blogs/comments sections on news sites.

Does anyone know how Siri responded?

68k said,
Microsoft paid Argentina to lose, in order to promote Cortana and Windows Phone. /s

I was confident Germany would win (having watched about half of the matches). I guess millions of others wrote the same thing on other forums/blogs/comments sections on news sites.

Does anyone know how Siri responded?

Probably, "Sorry, I'm having trouble connecting to the network." ;)

FloatingFatMan, this is Cortana.. Please, can you be a bit more specific, so I can properly calculate it for you? I will need the following: Country, State & City, and your DOB, please :)

Digolodollarz said,

Cortana faces ban, MS sued by lottery companies!

I know you say that as a joke, but you know... If their prediction engine is that good, I can see various gambling companies not being very happy...

Hmm.. Let me see.. Being good at soccer gives me a worldwide audience that adores me all year round and earn a truckload of money along the way.... Going to the moon, gives me an audience that only cares about this type of stuff and I spend a truckload of money getting there...... I'll take being good at soccer any time over going to the moon

jmc15john said,
There are two types of countries... Those who are good at soccer and those who have been to the moon. Which one are you?

The US isn't so bad actually. Little by little they are gaining ground and that is amazing considering they took a big hiatus from the world stage for so long and have to compete with other sports the rest of the world doesn't care for.

Plus when you consider just how big soccer is making the super bowl look like a small town event in viewership comparison, the fact a US team is good enough to advance to the round of 16 is amazing.

jmc15john said,
There are two types of countries... Those who are good at soccer and those who have been to the moon....
but, right now, they are unable to do it again.

jmc15john said,
There are two types of countries... Those who are good at soccer and those who have been to the moon. Which one are you?

Haha. I like the comment =).

I want to get a Lumia this year, but all the different models have me confused...i don't know what is what and why the one than the other...they have fragmented so much the brand that i can't keep track!

tomasse said,
I want to get a Lumia this year, but all the different models have me confused...i don't know what is what and why the one than the other...they have fragmented so much the brand that i can't keep track!

Not really that hard, generally the higher the never the higher end the phone in it's class. And by class I mean if it's a smartphone or a phablet, because phablet wise the 1320 has a higher number than lots of the others but it's lower end spec wise, but it's only 1 of 2 in the phablet group, the 1520 is higher end thus it still follows the numbering scheme.

George P said,

No, i get that, the numbering scheme is perfectly understandable.
Let me give you an example...each model below is 1 year apart one another...
but still the older one has LTE, LED Flash, Higher resolution video recording and front camera than its 'successor', which in the numbering case, the new one would also suggest being better but that's not the case...same happens with other models too,
http://www.gsmarena.com/compar...one1=5438&idPhone2=6232

tomasse said,

No, i get that, the numbering scheme is perfectly understandable.
Let me give you an example...each model below is 1 year apart one another...
but still the older one has LTE, LED Flash, Higher resolution video recording and front camera than its 'successor', which in the numbering case, the new one would also suggest being better but that's not the case...same happens with other models too,
http://www.gsmarena.com/compar...one1=5438&idPhone2=6232

Yes, the Lumia 630/635 it's quite strange compared to the previous 620/625.
I think they chose to release a 4,5" Gorilla Glass phone with 4 core at lower price, when the 620 come out it was sold at 250 euros compared to the 150/170 euros of the 630 so it's better since it's bigger and is a 4 core but lack flash, frontal camera and some Other bits.
So it's improved in some area and worst in other

Its fragmented to fit your budget. If you want a nice phone go for ICONn if you are camera centrc 1020. IF budget is more important go for lower numbers.

tomasse said,
I want to get a Lumia this year, but all the different models have me confused...i don't know what is what and why the one than the other...they have fragmented so much the brand that i can't keep track!

It's actually simple the numbers represent everything on a Nokia phone. For example: 925 the first number residents the grade 9 being a high number making high end phone. 5 would have made it low end. The second number represents the generation, in this case second generation had it been 3 well you know 3rd Gen. The lady number represents the variant, 5 that either was an exclusive or just went to a different carrier. Any number higher than 9 for example 1020 they are specialty phone like this one having a 41mp cam, the 1520 having 6 in screen and do on. Hope this helps.