Microsoft testing Office assistant app with possible Cortana integration

Microsoft has big plans for Cortana, and soon that may include the digital assistant being integrated into Office applications.

As spotted by WMPoweruser, an app called "Work Assistant" can be seen in the Windows Phone Store with the Office logo as its icon. The app is described as an internal beta prototype in its listing, and it makes use of a user's appointments, contacts and microphone, hinting at its Cortana integration. According to new reports, however, the app is just the first step in its goal of expanding Cortana's presence into new areas.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that her sources say Bill Gates is involved in the app's creation, while Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's chief experience officer of its applications and services team, is leading the development. Gates recently stated he's working on a "personal agent" project at Microsoft, which he described as software that would help people manage and organize data by remembering information to "help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to."

According to a report by The Verge, Microsoft will eventually integrate Cortana directly into Office on both mobile and desktop devices. The report lacks details on what the eventual integration of Cortana in Office will look like and be capable of doing, though Microsoft may not be far enough into planning for such information to be known.

Cortana's eventual integration into Office should come as no surprise, as Microsoft has increasingly focused on expanding Cortana to more apps across its range of products and services. The company recently released a preview version of Windows 10 including the digital assistant, and it even integrated Cortana into its fitness-focused wearable device, the Microsoft Band. Office applications also won't be the first major Microsoft software to integrate Cortana, as its upcoming Spartan web browser also uses the digital assistant.

Source: Windows Phone Store via WMPoweruser

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