Microsoft is set to release Windows Phone 8.1 later this year, which will include Cortana  a personal assistant that will rival the likes of Siri and Google Now. The Verge has today published some screenshots, showing how Cortana will look on Windows Phone, replacing the built-in Bing search feature. There's some bad news for those who were expecting to see the animated character from the Halo universe.

As one can see from the screenshots below, a circular icon will be present, which will animate when calculating or speaking to the Windows Phone owner. Not quite the Halo experience some were praying for, but keeping in line with the simplicity of Windows Phone, it's all about the functionality when it comes to virtual asistants.

Cortana Settings

Much like Siri on iOS, Cortana is able to address users by name or nicknames like "Master Chief" from Halo. The assistant will also be able to store information in a notebook system, allowing for quick access to location data, behaviours, personal details, reminders and contact information. Notifications can also be generated through flight tracking and other mentions in email conversations.

In short: Cortana will be more than a mere command and search assistant. Bing will join Foursquare and other services as sources of information, and Cortana will learn and adapt to individuals, offering a more personalised experience. We expect to see more about Cortana in the run up to Build 2014, where Windows Phone 8.1 is likely to be announced.

Source: The Verge; thanks to everyone who tipped us!