Rumor: 'Cortana' digital assistant for Windows Phone to launch in April for Lumia developers

Microsoft is purportedly working on a digital assistant codenamed "Cortana" for its entire operating system line, though it's expected to launch for Windows Phone devices first. According to a new rumor, Cortana will actually be released in beta form first for an even smaller subset of Microsoft products: "Lumia devices for U.S. developers."

A Wednesday blog post by MSFTnerd claims Cortana will launch in beta for Lumia devices in April, which aligns with a recent report that said the feature will be revealed alongside Windows Phone 8.1 at BUILD 2014 that month. The blog post also claims Cortana will be voiced by Jen Taylor, who plays the digital assistant's namesake in the Halo franchise. MSFTnerd says the recent speech updates to the Bing Translator app for Windows and Windows Phone show signs of Cortana's capabilities.

The blog post claims Cortana can be accessed by saying, "Bing, tell me," and then stating a command, such as "will it rain today," "when's my next meeting" or "how do I get to the American Airlines Arena." Assuming the claims are accurate, that would likely mean the name "Cortana" will be replaced by something branded with "Bing."

Cortana will launch for in "additional English-speaking territories" in 2015-16, MSFTnerd claims, and it will be added to the Bing app for iPhone this fall as well as U.S. Windows and Xbox One users next year.

Notably, many of the claims made in the blog post seem to reiterate or piggyback on earlier reports. In addition to the April reveal, for instance, other reports have already claimed Cortana will only be available for U.S. users at launch and that it will launch later for Microsoft's other operating systems. MSFTnerd also has an extremely spotty track record, with many of his claims regarding products that won't be released for several years, making it hard to gauge their accuracy, since products may be scrapped or altered.

In 2011, for instance, he claimed Microsoft's next console would have an ARM-based processor with integrated sensors, smaller chassis and cheaper retail price, yet the Xbox One launched with none of those features. He revised his claims in March 2012 to say Microsoft would release a ARM-powered, low-cost Xbox console focused on TV and Kinect before the next major Xbox; those claims fit information leaked in November 2012 that Microsoft was working on a low-cost Xbox console with an integrated sensor.

Other rumors from MSFTnerd have been entirely inaccurate. In 2012, he claimed the original Surface Pro's successor would have an AMD processor, yet Microsoft stuck with Intel for the Surface Pro 2.

Source: MSFTnerd (tumblr) | Image via Microsoft

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