Microsoft: We did Siri first with Windows Phone 7 [Video]

Without a doubt, the Siri voice recognition feature in Apple's iPhone 4S has generated a lot of press for the smartphone. But try telling that to Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie. In a new video interview at the Forbes web site, Mundie is asked for his opinion on Siri as an alternate user interface. Mundie says, "The TellMe facilities has been in Windows Phone for more than a year."

While Mundie admits that Apple might have an edge on marketing the Siri feature in iPhone 4S, he also feels that many people have hooked on to Siri because, in his opinion, there wasn't much else that was new with the iPhone 4S when Apple launched it in October. The TellMe feature in Windows Phone 7 does most of the same voice recognition features as Siri, including using voice to send text messages and search for anything using Microsoft's Bing. Mundie says, "All that's already there; fully functional and been there for a year."

Mundie also discusses Microsoft's efforts with the Kinect motion sensor device and technology, which has its own voice recognition features. Mundie predicts a big holiday season for the device as it pertains to its Xbox 360 game sales but also hints about Kinect's future applications beyond gaming. That's something that Microsoft confirmed this week when it announced plans for a new Kinect hardware device made especially for Windows in 2012.

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This video shows Siri and TellMe side-by-side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHoukZpMhDE

The results aren't pretty if you believe them when they say "TellMe = Siri, but Apple has better marketing."

Even if that were true though - that they were exactly equal, why the hell has Microsoft with their billions of dollars in the bank (their not 'that much' smaller than Apple) unable to come up with Marketing on par with Apple? Apple uses TWBA/Chiat Day, there's no reason Microsoft couldn't hire the same firm. In 2009 Apple spent ~$500m in advertising: that's trivial compared to Microsoft's $1.4b and saying nothing of the other major PC/Phone/Etc manufacturers that ship Microsoft-powered devices (like Dell at $800m).

A valued opinion on the matter would be listening to principal researcher at Microsoft Research, Bill Buxton.

Mundie is a 'company man' towing the company line. Bill on the other hand is technology agnostic and appreciates all NUI advancements wherever they happen.

Who cares ?

Nintendo was there first. The 360 controller uses about the same button layout as a SNES controller. But who cares ? The 360 is better, does better and is more popular than the Wii (don't start with Wii numbers nobody play it on a regular basis).

Siri is better marketed is there's a buzz around it. Instead of complaining just say gratz to the winner. It's not that hard after all.

I don't know what all this hoopla about natural speech is about... I find the voice recognition in WP7 to be perfectly 'natural' and even more importantly full of common sense.

Anyways, does Siri work over bluetooth?

I was driving today and had my HTC Mozart 7 paired via bluetooth to my BMW X5 (2010 model).

I received an sms, and automatically the phone started to read out the message over my car's audio system via the bluetooth connection. I was amazed to say the least!

I was then dumbfounded when the voice control automatically asked me what I wanted to do. I think the options were discard, delete, or reply. I chose reply, and then dictated an sms OVER the bluetooth system.

I also tried the voice command shortcut by holding down the windows home key, and that also worked over the bluetooth.

Now I have played with Siri on my girlfriend's 4S but haven't checked for bluetooth compatibility. But it doesn't seem to be that much better (if at all) than the WP7 phone in terms of recognising commands.

Personally, I would find idiotic to tell to a phone to send a SMS to your beloved one ...

Can't you do it by yourself; it's just more romantic, and it has balls.

All that is just marketing usual "crap", done the usual way, e.g. try to sell things you don't need by presenting them with an aesthetic and "tendance"feeling !!!

Don't buy things you don't really need. Don't ruin yourself to make Apple's fortune ... it will never give you anything good in return, just the need to buy more new Apple gadgets later ... Or at least, try to get rid of that AppleMania. 21st century disease . Cheers.

Only fanboys believe that Siri does Natural speech, it only use a broader range of key words...

Example
say to your phone : "tell Bob I love him"
Natural speech understanding should send a SMS to Bob saying "I love you"
Siri sends a SMS saying "I love him"
This ain't no natural speech recognition at all

Furthermore, in a noisy environment (ie : everywhere but home), Siri is crap while Tellme works (to be honest, not always) because of its reduced set of keywords which is easier for a phone ton understand

(I have a WP7 phone, my wife as a 4S)

MaDDentist said,
Only fanboys believe that Siri does Natural speech, it only use a broader range of key words...

Example
say to your phone : "tell Bob I love him"
Natural speech understanding should send a SMS to Bob saying "I love you"
Siri sends a SMS saying "I love him"
This ain't no natural speech recognition at all

I couldn't even get this right 100% of the time because context is everything. Suppose Bob's last message was "Hey man, just got some Dave Matthews tickets, do you like him?"

Maybe you say "I can't remember anything he's done, let me look him up on iTunes and get back to you…" A couple of hours later you ask siri to send your "I love him" message.

The appropriate message is now "I love him" or "I love Dave Matthews" and not "I love you", unless you mean to express how much you love Bob for knowing you might like to see performer: the context isn't clear.

Suppose a the message is "Set a reminder to pick up milk when I leave the office after the meeting". What office? Yours? the clients? Which meeting? today at noon? Next Thursday? etc.

Consider sending a response to the question "What did the boss say to do with the johnson file?" You respond "email him the report", which "him"? Should siri say to mail the boss the johnson file or mail johnson his own file?

Context is everything in a case like this and without details it's very difficult to know what an appropriate response is. Having siri ask for clarification every time you don't use a proper noun would get obnoxious. Having siri guess leads to unpredictable messages (as in the Dave Matthews example). When it takes litteral dictation you know exactly what behaviour you'll get: it's the appropriate action. Siri should try to determine context in the commands (where possible) and ignore it in stuff it's taking as dictation.

My issue with this is that Apple takes a device adds an S to the end of it changes a few things and calls it a new product. Then they take a product that is not (was not) even theirs integrates it into the phone, and walla we have something amazing! Even though Siri ran fine on my iPhone 3G. So what exactly has Apple done here other than take some other company's work, plunk it in their device, add an S to the end of and charge $$$$$ for an extra letter?

Welcome to business and real world. A place where companies release updated version of their products every 1 or 2 years and where users can decide to buy the new version or keep using the old one.

Some new cars come with a mp3 player and flash memory. Would be fun to have one in my 5 yo Mazda 3 instead of an aux input but hey my car is still working ...

You could also say that android had the same features too. voice recognition and voice commands are not newsworthy, siri just combines very accurate voice recognition (like the one android has, tbh), with more interactive voice commands and a search engine.
google has the best search engine out there, so they could come up with something like that too. if i google "michael jordan height", it will give me a best guess. if i google "radius of the moon" ill get it in km. but if I do it from my phone, i wont get a nice siri like answer. thats what sets siri apart from what was available before it.

There's a huge difference. With Siri I can just ask "Convert 100 Euro to USD" and it will do it, or can also tell it "How much in USD is 100 EURO" or simply "100 Euro to USD" and it understands all of them and gives the answer. I don't have to learn any specific commands. If I want to know if Siri can do something, I can just just ask it and it will tell me "no I can't turn off alarms" or "No I can't delete notes" or "Let me check that" and provide the answer. The difference is that you don't have to learn anything and simply ask for stuff to know if it can do it or not.

Cask1 said,
There's a huge difference. With Siri I can just ask "Convert 100 Euro to USD" and it will do it, or can also tell it "How much in USD is 100 EURO" or simply "100 Euro to USD" and it understands all of them and gives the answer. I don't have to learn any specific commands. If I want to know if Siri can do something, I can just just ask it and it will tell me "no I can't turn off alarms" or "No I can't delete notes" or "Let me check that" and provide the answer. The difference is that you don't have to learn anything and simply ask for stuff to know if it can do it or not.

I bet it doesn't have a "Research my homework for me" command

No it doesn't fortunately I haven't needed to do homework for quite a few years now.
I am not saying is the best thing since slice bread, but it is certainly far more evolved technology than the one included in Windows Phone.

And before anyone thinks I am a fanboy, I wouldn't buy a Mac if my life depended on it.

Warboy said,

I bet it doesn't have a "Research my homework for me" command

Cask1 said,
No it doesn't fortunately I haven't needed to do homework for quite a few years now.
I am not saying is the best thing since slice bread, but it is certainly far more evolved technology than the one included in Windows Phone.

And before anyone thinks I am a fanboy, I wouldn't buy a Mac if my life depended on it.


I just find it strange that all 3 platforms have similar voice technology and Siri "gives" the most reason to upgrade to the 4S for some reason. I heard a best buy sales rep talking to the customer about the 4S and that's all he could list really. It was pretty pathetic.

Warboy said,


I just find it strange that all 3 platforms have similar voice technology and Siri "gives" the most reason to upgrade to the 4S for some reason. I heard a best buy sales rep talking to the customer about the 4S and that's all he could list really. It was pretty pathetic.

I agree, the update itself was pretty lackluster, only reason I upgraded from my iPhone 4 is basically the CPU and GPU upgrade, as I do play a lot of games like Infinity Blade or Real Racing 2, and this is the only aspect where I think the 4S is a huge upgrade over the 4. I certainly would not have bought it only for Siri or the camera (iPhone 4 camera was good enough for me).

Damn. I'm surprised with the comments. First of all, I thought there was going to be a flaming war between edge to edge fanboys, but I was wrong. Thanks God people (at least the majority) is using its knowledge and brain to make up a comment rather than a troll.

I knew exactly how he was going to answer that Siri question, even before it was asked. His answer was right, TellMe does have AI capabilities and some were exposed with Windows Phone 7. But, the thing is, text transcribing is not really all the exciting. It's cool and can be very convenient, it's just not exciting. For the general consumer, Siri is exciting, partially because it is from Apple, but the fact that it's from Apple means it's going to work very well. And for the most part, it works as advertised and has more capabilities than you could list in an elevator pitch. I think Siri is a great product, and I know Microsoft will counter with something just as great for WP7.

While I'm sure the next version of Windows Phone will have something on par with "Siri," Apple's thing is a bit more evolved. Still, the speech recognition on Tellme is really good; they just need to add the "natural language" stuff to it and give it a dumb name like Apple's.

Enron said,
While I'm sure the next version of Windows Phone will have something on par with "Siri," Apple's thing is a bit more evolved. Still, the speech recognition on Tellme is really good; they just need to add the "natural language" stuff to it and give it a dumb name like Apple's.

Yeah, it's something that they'll work to improve, as will Apple... But honestly, I see issues with both. Is natural language easier? Absolutely? But I've gotten a lot more errors playing with iPhones than with my WP7. Not to say I don't ever get errors, but I get less and less as well.

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, it's something that they'll work to improve, as will Apple... But honestly, I see issues with both. Is natural language easier? Absolutely? But I've gotten a lot more errors playing with iPhones than with my WP7. Not to say I don't ever get errors, but I get less and less as well.

I've noticed that too. It's been progressively getting better and better on both WP7 and Kinect.

wixostrix said,

I've noticed that too. It's been progressively getting better and better on both WP7 and Kinect.

Apparently Tell Me uses some form of crowdsourcing to improve itself, at least that's what i'd read.

neo158 said,

Apparently Tell Me uses some form of crowdsourcing to improve itself, at least that's what i'd read.

You would be correct. Think of crowdsourcing and add a bit of Skype... wow, the future, in Microsoft's hands. Amazing.

neo158 said,
Apparently Tell Me uses some form of crowdsourcing to improve itself, at least that's what i'd read.

Yes, anonymous usage data is taken from every TellMe enabled device. with half a billion calls to microsoft daily, that's a lot of aggregate data to analyze.

MS may have done something similar first, but apple has now done it better. Best to just admit that and concentrate on making your own product better (which judging by the new image on the Hotmail signup page is still a distant priority for Microsoft). Trying to spin this any other way is stupid and seems like MS's version of a RDF.

I don't know, I just switched from a sprint galaxy s2 to a Verizon iphone 4s last week, Siri is just "ok", it can be fun to use to impress friends however it makes a lot of mistakes with voice recognition, my old gs2 made very few mistakes and I gotta admit I got more work done in less time with emails and text on my gs2 than I do with Siri, maybe in time Siri will calibrate itself better with my voice but so far it's just not as good in that dept.
Siri has been good with other day to day stuff like finding stores and gas stations tho.

And Nokia had voice commands in their phones before either Microsoft or Apple even considered entering the market.

This proves what, exactly?

daPhoenix said,
And Nokia had voice commands in their phones before either Microsoft or Apple even considered entering the market.

This proves what, exactly?

Not that I doubt you but do you have a source for that?

By going back in time... like, the 80's and 90's, which was the last time there was a major boom in voice recognition research.

daPhoenix said,
And Nokia had voice commands in their phones before either Microsoft or Apple even considered entering the market.

This proves what, exactly?


Windows Phones are still relevant; old Nokia devices are not. As Windows Phone is still a growing platform and is still relevant, it makes sense for Microsoft to point this out; Windows Phone is currently competing with the iPhone, whereas old Nokia devices are not.

Saying that WP's voice commands are the same as Siri is like saying that a walkman is the same as an iPod touch. Sure they both play music, but one is WAY more advanced than the other.
Btw, this is coming from a wp7 user. LG optimus 7.

James_H said,
Saying that WP's voice commands are the same as Siri is like saying that a walkman is the same as an iPod touch. Sure they both play music, but one is WAY more advanced than the other.
Btw, this is coming from a wp7 user. LG optimus 7.

Mind sharing an example?

Anthonyd said,

Mind sharing an example?

The Tell Me service is closer the Windows Mobile Voice Command app at the moment, Siri uses natural language.

neo158 said,

The Tell Me service is closer the Windows Mobile Voice Command app at the moment, Siri uses natural language.


None care about "natural language"? I mean what's the diff between saying "send text to mum <pause >: i love you" and "send i love you to mum"?

Anthonyd said,

None care about "natural language"? I mean what's the diff between saying "send text to mum <pause >: i love you" and "send i love you to mum"?

what if i say "send i need to go to mum to mum"?

Anthonyd said,

None care about "natural language"? I mean what's the diff between saying "send text to mum <pause >: i love you" and "send i love you to mum"?

The experience, it makes a HUGE difference, as you don't have to figure out the arrangement of your commands, also Siri follows the context.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

The experience, it makes a HUGE difference, as you don't have to figure out the arrangement of your commands, also Siri follows the context.

GS:mac


That's pure apple marketing here You learned the holy words of Steve, nice.

Anthonyd said,

That's pure apple marketing here You learned the holy words of Steve, nice.

What if I happen to be a perfectionist with some matters and prefer this over this DOS-like talk to a 21st century device?

GS:mac

Anthonyd said,

None care about "natural language"? I mean what's the diff between saying "send text to mum <pause >: i love you" and "send i love you to mum"?

Ok, can the Windows Phone understand "Do I need to take an umbrella?"

Anthonyd said,

None care about "natural language"? I mean what's the diff between saying "send text to mum <pause >: i love you" and "send i love you to mum"?

Exactly, what I was trying to say is that Tell Me is more command oriantated.

BTW, I do own a Windows Phone and use Tell Me regularly.

Webworldx said,

Ok, can the Windows Phone understand "Do I need to take an umbrella?"

No but you can have the weather of your location by using voice command or simply take a look outside and see if it's raining.

edit: On WP, a simple tile with the weather shown is possible, so yeah, you don't even need gay voice command/siri.

Webworldx said,

Ok, can the Windows Phone understand "Do I need to take an umbrella?"

Who actually asks that in real life? I ask if it's going to rain. If Siri wanted to get smart with you, maybe it would say no you don't need an umbrella because you never go outside (assuming it has access to your location history and knows you never go anywhere).

Webworldx said,

Ok, can the Windows Phone understand "Do I need to take an umbrella?"

Who gives a flying ****? I can just say "weather" and find out if I need to wear a light jacket or a thick coat in addition to having to bring the umbrella. How often do you want just a one word answer? It's worthless gimmick that doesn't really make it easier.

Webworldx said,

Ok, can the Windows Phone understand "Do I need to take an umbrella?"
Sure, look outside, then check your weather's live tile. All without saying a word or launching a single app.

Posted from my Windows Phone.

pickypg said,
Sure, look outside, then check your weather's live tile. All without saying a word or launching a single app.

Posted from my Windows Phone.


I'm sure blind people will tend to disagree.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

I'm sure blind people will tend to disagree.

GS:mac


Blind people don't use touchscreen phone like the iPhone, useless they are actor inside Apple ads.

Anthonyd said,

Blind people don't use touchscreen phone like the iPhone, useless they are actor inside Apple ads.

Source?

Also, bonus question: Which non-touch phones have a proper app store to get helpful apps like train connection checkers, navigation, ...?

Glassed Silver:mac

Glassed Silver said,

bonus question: Which non-touch phones have a proper app store to get helpful apps like train connection checkers, navigation, ...?

Glassed Silver:mac

Blackberry.

Glassed Silver said,

You mean that dying RIM product, don't you?

GS:mac

That is completely irrelevant to what you asked. Are you finished trolling?

smithy_dll said,

That is completely irrelevant to what you asked. Are you finished trolling?


Well, there will be a time when apps for these devices don't get updated anymore, and it probably is sooner than with iDevices.

So if you start using one for personal guidance and such, why jump on a ship that is about to sink?

Nice try calling me a troll...

GS:mac

smithy_dll said,

That is completely irrelevant to what you asked. Are you finished trolling?

why are you even wasting your time. Hes an obvious apple fanboy that will never let up. I mean come on the guy puts GS:mac on the end of every message, it doesn't get anymore religious then that.

Colin McGregor said,

why are you even wasting your time. Hes an obvious apple fanboy that will never let up. I mean come on the guy puts GS:mac on the end of every message, it doesn't get anymore religious then that.

As much as I'm not a GS fan, he posts his sig from the device he's using. I've seen a lot of GS:win as much as GS:mac and GS:iOS.
So neener.

dotf said,

As much as I'm not a GS fan, he posts his sig from the device he's using. I've seen a lot of GS:win as much as GS:mac and GS:iOS.
So neener.

And what might this GS be?

GS:android2.3.5 wtf?

You guys discussing about taking a look outside the window to check on the weather aren't really thinking outside the box.

The guy asked, what if you asked WP that question, it's an example which should get your mind going on to experiment other type of questions (and their respective answers).

Just for the record, I don't own any of the phones discussed here, all I'm doing is trying to look at it from another angle

Anthonyd said,

Blind people don't use touchscreen phone like the iPhone, useless they are actor inside Apple ads.

iPhones tend to be quite popular amongst the blind FYI. I used to work in sales and I helped out several blind people with their iPhones. Apple generally has very strong support when it comes to universal design, especially for the hearing and vision impaired.

oceanmotion said,
Got to market things better. Not the first time Microsoft have a nice idea first that looks like it came after the competition.

See my reply above.

oceanmotion said,
Got to market things better. Not the first time Microsoft have a nice idea first that looks like it came after the competition.

Exactly. That's the only limitation really...

Idiotic response if he truly believes that (Which I hope for Microsoft's sake he doesn't)

Siri takes TellMe to a whole new (Important) level of NATURAL speech.

BoyBoppins said,
Idiotic response if he truly believes that (Which I hope for Microsoft's sake he doesn't)

Siri takes TellMe to a whole new (Important) level of NATURAL speech.

Not really.

BoyBoppins said,
Idiotic response if he truly believes that (Which I hope for Microsoft's sake he doesn't)

Siri takes TellMe to a whole new (Important) level of NATURAL speech.


Did you watch the video? It was hardly an idiotic response.

BoyBoppins said,
Idiotic response if he truly believes that (Which I hope for Microsoft's sake he doesn't)

Siri takes TellMe to a whole new (Important) level of NATURAL speech.

I think its pretty easy to say ...

Text message my mom..

Or search something..

The problem is that people are saying microsoft has nothing like Siri but they have something similar but just didnt include the stupid jokes and have more of a machine voice then a person reading scripts. Microsofts is a year old.. so wait a year for microsoft to do their next move then we will see

BoyBoppins said,
Idiotic response if he truly believes that (Which I hope for Microsoft's sake he doesn't)

Siri takes TellMe to a whole new (Important) level of NATURAL speech.


This is an idiotic response