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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Giving their AI Phone Assistant a name is copying Apple. MS should go a new different path and not copy Apple. How about MS leverage the 'Kinect' brand instead of using Cortana?

derekaw said,
Giving their AI Phone Assistant a name is copying Apple. MS should go a new different path and not copy Apple. How about MS leverage the 'Kinect' brand instead of using Cortana?

A copy? Cortana pre-dates Siri by a decade...

Its the giving it a name and releasing it on a phone some time this year that is the copying. Yes, the name Cortana existed before Siri if you like but I was not saying that, I was talking about the end product and the launch. Giving you AI assistant on your phone a name is the copying.

How about they called their assistant Angela, giving it a name, Angela, any name, is copying Apple. How about they call it Kinect? How about they call it 'MS'?, 'OK MS'

Right now there is just one AI baked into a phone operating system that has a female sounding name and that is SIRI. If Microsoft provides a female AI in their operating system then it is copying Apple. Even a male AI is copying.

Microsoft should come up with their own idea like Google did.

derekaw said,
Is it Cortana or Bing? I hate the Bing brand name. 'Bing tell me' ooowww, thats awful.

Bing, tell me will it rain today?
Bing, tell me do I have any meetings today?
Bing, tell me where is the nearest Italian restaurant?
Bing, tell me where the nearest Italian restaurant is.

Not that bad. Would be nice to be able to leave off the "tell me"... and even change the name to whatever you like.

I'd like 'Dick' better than 'Bing'

MS have the worst brand names, every new brand name waters down the MS brand. MS chose Bing because they want people to say 'Bing it' so that it can be like 'Google it' Thats so contrived, I hate it. 'Google it' happened organically.

Huh..... it sounds just like siri to me. Nothing that says its revolutionary as people have made it out to be

auziez said,
Huh..... it sounds just like siri to me. Nothing that says its revolutionary as people have made it out to be

Because they don't want anyone copying it before it releases...

rfirth said,

Because they don't want anyone copying it before it releases...

Or because it isn't going to be anything special.....
me and you both don't know exactly what it can do, and hey I've been let down plenty of times before so I'm not looking towards the moon.

Going to be a lot of disappointed Geeks when there's no visual sign of Cortana anywhere, unless the voice alone is enough.

The repeated inaccuracy of the source of this rumor should've kicked off the story. That way we could all respond accordingly instead of believing any of this.

spenser.d said,
Wish I could say "Cortana, tell me x" instead of "Bing..."

I wish we could pick the name. Perhaps have it respond to Bing and one other user-selected name...

I hope these rumors are not accurate: launching as a Beta in April, same timeframe as the supposed availability of WP 8.1, and only on some Lumia models....

DynamiteKip said,
It's long overdue. Apple's Siri has been around since late 2011 and Google Now since early 2012.

And Microsoft TellMe has been around for quite a while, and can be extended very easily by third parties to compete with and surpass the capabilities of Siri.

rfirth said,

And Microsoft TellMe has been around for quite a while, and can be extended very easily by third parties to compete with and surpass the capabilities of Siri.


and what phones, products, apps, use this and do the same things siri already does.

Co_Co said,

and what phones, products, apps, use this and do the same things siri already does.

Well, my app Hurricane Tracker hooks into this and allows a wide variety of voice commands for viewing past storms and satellite imagery using natural language.

There are several digital assistant apps for Windows Phone that compete with Siri. The app doesn't have to be open. You just activate TellMe (press and hold the start button), then say the name of the app followed by the command/query. Writing your own Siri couldn't be easier.

The beauty is that any app can hook into this. Cortana (currently TellMe) doesn't have to do it all. It's extensible.

US Only device type limited Beta.
2016 GA for limited markets.

Yeah, sounds like the typical MS way of handling things.

if this is true then Microsoft is really behind and they don't seem to be in any rush to change that. it seems pathetic that they would be holding themselves back so much, im hoping I get blown away in april (and not just for windows phone) because if Microsoft keep stalling I may switch to google

Kyle K. said,
get the nerdy crowd over to Windows Phone.

MS might want to focus more on mainstream consumers and women, in particular, for whom this Cortana character probably doesn't have quite the same level of attraction...

Kyle K. said,
Awesome gimmick to get the nerdy crowd over to Windows Phone.


could you right a review about it ? obviously you have used it , in order to call it a "gimmick" or you're just being a troll?

EvilAstroboy said,

could you right a review about it ? obviously you have used it , in order to call it a "gimmick" or you're just being a troll?

It's gimmicky because it's using a main character from the arguably most successful gaming franchise Microsoft has ever had on one of their consoles as a Siri-esque personal assistant. The fact that product relates to Halo means that it will make sales from the Halo fanboy crowd. Case and point?

Lighthalzen said,
Will get Windows Phone if works good.

<--- Halo Fan >,<

CSheep said,

MS might want to focus more on mainstream consumers and women, in particular, for whom this Cortana character probably doesn't have quite the same level of attraction...

I feel like they are targeting segregated markets first. This appeals to the crowd that generally uses Android. Focus on stealing customers from Google and then afterwards create another idea that brings in users that are used to Apple products.

CSheep said,

MS might want to focus more on mainstream consumers and women, in particular, for whom this Cortana character probably doesn't have quite the same level of attraction...

Its the code name for the project, when released I suspect little to do with Halo 'Cortana' will be present.

Kyle K. said,

It's gimmicky because it's using a main character from the arguably most successful gaming franchise Microsoft has ever had on one of their consoles as a Siri-esque personal assistant. The fact that product relates to Halo means that it will make sales from the Halo fanboy crowd. Case and point?

So you're getting upset because MS are using a name ( which they have ALL rights too ) for their Digital Assistant and also using the voice ?

Good way to get the Customers ?

I bet you wouldn't be upset if Android or Apple had the name for their Digital assistant ...would you ?

EvilAstroboy said,

So you're getting upset because MS are using a name ( which they have ALL rights too ) for their Digital Assistant and also using the voice ?

Good way to get the Customers ?

I bet you wouldn't be upset if Android or Apple had the name for their Digital assistant ...would you ?

I think you have the wrong idea of the tone of my comment. I said "awesome gimmick" meaning I feel like their usage of Cortana is very intelligent to steal market share.

And no, I wouldn't be upset if Apple or Google used the name as their digital assistant because I don't get upset over the names that manufacturers choose for their products.

"Cortana" is just a codename for now, who knows if it will stick? I don't think it's a gimmick, it's just Microsoft honoring part of its history in a codename -- nothing more.

Anthony Tosie said,
"Cortana" is just a codename for now, who knows if it will stick? I don't think it's a gimmick, it's just Microsoft honoring part of its history in a codename -- nothing more.

That's what I thought until I re read, but they are using the same voice actress used for the real 'cortana'. This wont put anyone off if they don't know the game, as its a nice voice indeed, but it will get the game lovers on board big time!

The phrase you're looking for is "case IN point". Anyway, yes, it's gimmicky in that respect. And, frankly, Siri is gimmicky, too. The difference here, name aside, is that the end-game for Microsoft is having their new voice/command/search/interaction concept (which is claimed to be a much more impressive and expansive concept that either Siri or Google's Now) ubiquitous across ALL Windows platforms. And, if the report about making it available for the Bing apps on iOS and, presumably Android, it would be platform-agnostic. This is huge if they pull it off. This potentially puts "Jarvis" in real terms for users. Neither Siri nor Now have been demonstrated to have anything like that as the goal.

Kyle K. said,
Awesome gimmick to get the nerdy crowd over to Windows Phone.

I don't consider it a gimmick. a personal computer assistent is more interesting if it has a name. Cortana is an awesome name for this assistent. In fact the Cortana character has a nice personality. She is actually a bit like Siri.

By using Cortana's voice, character and perhaps even appearance Microsoft can create their own Siri without it seeming like a massive rip-off of Apple.

These personal assistence will only continue to improve. Cortana is the property of Microsoft and I think its simply the best way to have a likeable personal assistent from MS. So its not just a gimmick, its the future.

duddit2 said,

That's what I thought until I re read, but they are using the same voice actress used for the real 'cortana'. This wont put anyone off if they don't know the game, as its a nice voice indeed, but it will get the game lovers on board big time!


This is still a rumor, as explained in the article. If Jen Taylor voices it, then it's just a nod to her work as Cortana (and, don't forget, people started a petition to get her voice used for this, even though Microsoft hasn't confirmed it exists). She's a well-respected voice actress.

Anthony Tosie said,
"Cortana" is just a codename for now, who knows if it will stick? I don't think it's a gimmick, it's just Microsoft honoring part of its history in a codename -- nothing more.

If they don't use 'Cortana', they're a bunch of idiots... Lol