Here's what Microsoft's Cortana looks like for Windows Phone 8.1

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!


Reader comments

Here's what Microsoft's Cortana looks like for Windows Phone 8.1



I don't care for it. I'd rather they let us use our Xbox avatars. We can customize the hell out of those.

No way! My Xbox avie looks like a vampire with Down's. I want Captain Vane from Black Sails so I can make "I want you bad" come out of his mouth 20 times a day woooo! When's the development kit coming out?!

'A vampire with Down's'?

What does that mean?

If, as I suspect, the contributor is being offensive about a learning disability then they should be banned... unless the moderators agree with the post?

For the record, I have a daughter with Down syndrome. She is brilliant.

He obviously didn't mean anything about your daughter and it's up to you to take offence without it being directed toward you or your daughter, i imagine she is brilliant, my brother in-law has down syndrome and he is also brilliant :D (albeit, not a vampire)

Thank you for speaking with a level head. I don't think the OP meant anything offensive or personal by it. He could have easily said a vampire in a wheelchair, one arm, blind or deaf  and it wouldn't have been offensive to people with those ailments either. I do not think he should be banned for that.

'Looks like a vampire with Down's'.

So, Paul, what is the Down's look? I look forward to your answer.

You say 'level', I say offensive.

Although some of the physical characteristics of Down syndrome may be seen in people without the condition, a combination of certain physical traits is often a fairly easily recognizable indication to parents and physicians that a child has the condition. Although not every child with Down syndrome will carry noticeable physical characteristics, in approximately 80% of all cases, a recognizable combination of these physical traits will be present in the child or adult with Down syndrome.

Some of the most common characteristics of people with Down syndrome include:
 · A flattened appearance to the face
 · A high, broad forehead
 · A smaller head, proportionately
 · An upward slant to the eyes
 · A narrow slit to the eyes
 · Pronounced bags or folds under the eyes
 · A small, depressed nose
 · Small ears
 · Ears set quite low to the face
 · A small mouth
 · A large or protruding tongue
 · A short neck
 · Short arms and legs
 · Short fingers and toes
 · Large space between the first and second toe
 · A single, deep crease in the center of the palm
 · Poor muscle tone (hypotonia)
 · Loose joints (hyperflexability)
 · Weak reflexes

but I'm sure you already knew this. My wife has worked with and cared for many people with this condition a lot of whom lead normal lives.

Is that what you do then? Swing ban hammers at anything you don't understand or humor that's not your personal cup of tea? How common.

I don't know your daughter, but if you say she is brilliant I have little to lose by believing you. Considering I don't know you either the concept of me having purposely posted to offend is patently absurd bordering on nonsensical, so the rest of these posters who clearly have spent enough time in the real world to know how pointless it is to take offense at everything and who have their own senses of entitlement under control are right on with their diagnosis. You might want to take notes.

As to my description of my avatar? It is a very poorly designed vampire. In fact, it matches the description I wrote very well - considering there are common facial traits among people with Down's that are universally acknowledged, if someone possesses some individual similarity in their features and is said to resemble someone with Down's, are you prepared to punish them as well? Accurate or no? Who appointed you judge?

I may sound cross. I am not - more like resolute. I've said nothing wrong, nothing hostile and with that in mind I'm as disinclined to tiptoe past the demands of the dangerously self entitled as I am to apologize for stepping on their toes, so long as I can live with my harmless intent. And I can. If that's ban worthy then the mods can borrow my hammer if it suits them.

And I am a she, not a he.

Now, that's a really good idea!!!.. But, besides our XBA they should have a hub where we can build our own Cortana, one original to the device.. That would be Awesome!

I dunno if anyone is familiar with things like Megaman Battlenetwork and the PET's. But, I always figured, you already have a full bodied, 3D avatar on xbox live... Why not just use that guy as an OPTION for your personal assistant. There are already animations and for some, a small attachment to those characters.

I loved those games! That's not a bad idea, maybe in Windows Phone 8.5 or whatever the next big update is we'll see that.

I'm not sure I want myself helping myself with the things I don't know. Though the option to use the same tools and anything else we've unlocked to create a second avatar specific to it, as people have suggested, i'm all for that. 

Haha, I guess so. I guess it's how you look at it. I've always taken that little avatar to be exactly as my example (the PET's from MMBN). And so, looks like me sure, but it isn't me. It's a tiny lil cpu. 

I dunno, it makes a truckload of sense to me, haha. But options are the key. If it were an option, vs the new static ones, vs the defaul one.. maybe a little adhoc, but many would like it.

How much horsepower would be required to have avitar move to essentially reading you a text.  May look a bit doppie.  The software requirements to have the software categorize the information and then choose a animation would be significant, and probably annoying after you get tired of the same animation.  Plus, why would I be looking at my phone driving a car asking for search?  I did notice that my phone NOkia 928 worked flawlessly with a radio I installed.  Read my text, allowed me to repaly, add and then send.  The voice recognition worked great.  IS that functino a part of Bing and soon to be integrated with Cortana?  I also noticed that the Here Map system allows me to choose a voice.  Originally I had a british voice that said "turn right at 'west doctor' " instead of 'West Drive' ".  I assume the software reads Dr. as doctor instead of Drive.


I played with the voice on Bing also and selected a British voice. It sounded cool until I tried to give it commands or look for contacts. It wouldn't always work until I started saying the names with a British accent. Then it worked great. I changed it back.

Cool looks great. I'm hoping that Cortana will be Microsoft's killer feature. Samsung and Apple are focusing on Health in 2014, trying to make Health and Wellness "The Next Big Thing" Microsoft has no horse in that race. They need to usurp the mobile dialogue with a game changer. Cortana can be it. What do you guys think. I started a forum on the topic right here on WPCentral.

Seriously? The Bing Health & Fitness app on my phone is a horse in the fight. So is HealthVault on Windows 8. Pretty awesome apps too.

Sure. Show me equally great integration of social media. and anything close to the people hub. Show me the integration of maps, local data something even remotely close to livesight or maybe just anything clike what livetiles offer. Thought not.


Stuff like this is icing, it's glitter and nice to have.


Same old boring do nothings splodge's on a tiny screen. Oh, wait now psychedelic colours.....nah, still boring...

you mean like the hubs they are removing from wp? let's face it, the hubs were a great idea until they

A) never opened them to the limited amount of services. sure, one place to get everything sounds great, but show me a single app that can tap into the hubs other than FB/Twitter? you can't because MSFT made it impossible to do this.

B) failed to keep pace with the cadence of the services like FB and twitter forcing you to use the apps anyway.

Integration of maps? let's just point out to you how annoying is to have the maps function of the OS be bastardized by the cheap immitation that is nokia maps which BTW doesn't work with the local scout...because it has to yank you out to yet another cheapo-app nokia drive. Integration? more like fragmentation. Why can't they just make ONE stinking maps app like google maps which does everything.

quite simply, WP is a diasaster with location and social services. I'm not even sure if there is a strategy but after 3 years of using it, it only feels more like a feature phone OS...

Bing It On. I've done it a hundred times and find Bing to be more accurate. Google is overrated. Also, they suck.

Android: initial release - 09/23/2008

iOS: initial release - 06/29/2007

Windows Phone: initial release - 10/21/2010


This is not trailing...This is on-time!

:D that is actually quite a clever observation. However I have to praise google. Not only have they basically dominated everybody, they are leading even as they have to deal with a mess of devices greater than even windows itself and they push updates so fast, it puts even apple to shame.

"they push updates so fast" yeah but how many legacy devices actually GET these updates from the carriers?

I love my Lumia 520, but I have to agree with the previous poster in saying Cortana is merely "catch-up" for Microsoft. Google Now and Siri are very capable, mature technologies in the extact same field... nothing new to see here... just glad we're getting it too :)

Does anyone actually use Siri? I know lots of iPhone and iPad users, none of them have used Siri beyond trying it out. Maybe Cortana will be good enough to actually USE.

I have an iPad mini, and honestly... No, I never use Siri :)

And even if Siri uses Bing (wouldn't doubt it), Cortana is still not a major differentiator in the market for Microsoft.

Well MS actually started this with TellMe back on WinMo. We've had Bing for a while on WP so this aught to be a pretty mature implementation.

that's like calling clippy mature just because it has been around forever. MSFT implementation is older? possibly. but remember you could never use tell-me to do anything useful. sure it would do some basic searches. I hardly call that an assistant. my pocket phone could do some of it prior to windows phone.

Actually, the built in voice command works just as good as Android or iOS in terms of function. You can voice call by number or name, open apps, voice text, have text read to you, and search the web. Granted, asking it what the weather is will not read it out to you, but far from WAAAY behind.

Yup. The basics are covered in WP8, the things that people I'd imagine use voice for the most. Except for voice-based GPS commands.

Nothing new? So if someone texts you from an Apple or Android field, will Siri or Google Now offer to fill in blanks from, lets say, someone asking to go to the local bar this Saturday at 9? Siri and Google Now will fill that into the calendars? Then Glance will pick that up and display it with the latest update? Just to go a little forward. ;) Sure, this may be a catch-up, but there's more to it than just a personal assistant, and this is one of the major features coming down the line that hasn't been fully leaked yet.

There's been nothing that I have heard that really curls my toes at this point. It really does just feel like MS is just trying to make sure they're not missing any features when compared to iOS/Android.

I'm not making fun of anybody, just not going crazy waiting for this feature. The ability to close apps (GDR3... which my 521 doesn't have yet) and to separate my volume levels is more directly useful to me than Cortana "appears" to be.

Nah. If they want to make money, especially with us Americans, have Cortana deliver pizza and 64 oz. sodas from a port.

And the great thing, someone had leaked the languages folder for cortana, and it included englsihs indian ! That means we wont have to wait for ages to get cortana here ! Though i really hope they record a better indian voice than the current one, its humiliating to open speech at present in front of people, the accent is so bad, almost as if they were promoting a stereotype ! Hate the current voice (indian).

The Indian English accent is terrible. You can't change that. Cortana will speak just the way it is.

They must've re-recorded everything, the current language set cant handle it all i guess... Just hope they get a decent north-indian (and not a punjabi) to do the voice-overs and not a south indian (she sounds like one, the current one)
Also hoping that this time they dont limit some features for us, like they have done right now...
Fed up of the useless accent and the lack of features in indian speech set, advising all Indians to install UK speech set and not indian !

I wish Tom Warren didn't work for the verge. He's the only reason I bother with them. That, or I wish folks in the know here would be as willing to leak info as he is.

It would be nice if he was working at WPC, but I think it's good that he's at TheVerge, especially since the Verge gets more traffic and is linked to major news sites.  He balances out the Apple/Android Fanboy writers there who are often bias or completely ignorant of the MS ecosystem.  One senior editor at TheVerge was completely unaware of the MS vs Sky copyright trial, and tried to claim MS was rebranding Skydrive to Onedrive because Skydrive was a failure.  Luckily Tom corrected him and made the guy look like a fool.

Sorry, but he was a better writer when he ran his own site winrumors. I thing the verge doesn't give him the freedom he once had as I've seen some very suspect articles he's written since he became an employee at the verge. I still like Tom, but as stated, I think the verge has some restrictive guidlines on him because I've seen more negative press towards windows since he transitioned there.

As much as an MS fan would like to hate The Verge, we must admit that The Verge has more than enough clout to get every other tech bloggers talking. Name of the blog appears to be more important than the people working in it. If Tom Warren wasn't in The Verge, we probably wouldn't even hear the news. Compare that to WMPU, they are not taken seriously because they have an excellent track record of posting fake news.

you know what is also minimalistic and to the point: the horrible favorites lists of IE mobile...which makes them useless.

It sucks big balls in Portugal, unfortunately. Believe me, I've tried Bing and google search side by side and Bings results are pathetic.

I hope Cortana works well right out of the box and is as promising as all of these articles are making it out to be.

I don't want to be over optimistic. Just want MS to get a few basic and useful things right.

Nobody here is claiming to have used it. Its all and how well Microsoft does the marketing. Was Siri great when it was first released? Hell no! But. They did the right commercials and it sold well.

Sure, but Siri is the first one in. Cortana being the third, next to google. So cortana should be much optimized at launch

Google now is better just for surfing not for reminding or doing things what Siri can do. Google now has a voice which is pathetic. But is good on catching words properly.

Google Now can do everything Siri does, so get your facts straight. Except, of course, being your virtual buddy.

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A lot of early reports said that MS could have shipped this a long time ago but there were waiting to make sure it would stand out from the crowd rather than just be a copy of what everyone else is doing.  I hope this is true and it offers more than just voice features.  I believe it is supposed to be a personal assitant that will help even when you aren't asking it to.

I like it. As someone who played Halo, Cortana is more about the voice anyway. I do hope they get that part right. Hopefully they can expand her role into thirdparty apps. Like have her tell me my running speed or being my GPS.

I've also played Halo. The voice is important but the character is also iconic. I'd be fine with this being how she appears around the OS but it'd be nice to have a hub or app where she actually appeared. Also would help set it apart from Siri and the like by giving it someone to see.

I'm fine without an avatar. The one thing I'd like to see is a personality, like the comment up there "I'm absorbing the entire internet. Won't take long..." If they can properly expand on that Cortana will be a win

Agreed. Cortana's "attitude" is her best feature (cause that body is just a striking hologram) and if they can port that over to a personal assistant I would be so very happy.
I fantasize about my phone going "Chief, you're gonna be late for that managers' meeting if you don't leave now, traffic is piling up going into town". I really hope she gets to be that sophisticated.

That screen shot has me a little suspicious. The description immediately below Cortana's on switch reflects the opposite of the switch's state.

Oh, you're right! Nice catch. Doesn't necessarily mean it's fake, but definitely calls credibility into question.

@daniel Rubino if you're reading this. You had mentioned there was some sort of hesitation on calling it, "Cortana" internally at Microsoft. Does this mean that concern exists no more?

"Hesistaiton" is corporate speak for "we haven't heard back from the legal team yet." I think the concern was whether Microsoft still owned the rights to that name or if it had transfered to 343 Industries as Microsoft is just the publisher, not that developer.

With that said, wouldn't it be cool is Microsoft shipped a "Sound Pack" that included the Halo ringtone, gun shot sounds from varies Halo guns for when you receive messages, and other sounds from the franchise? :)

I already use Halo themes for my ringtones mostly but I would love a notification sound that sounded like an Elite giving orders to some Grunts

Microsoft fully owns everything Halo. They also fully own 343i as they were the one's who created them.

Well, there still might have been a clash of VPs that prevented its use. From a marketing standpoint, I can see both points. One the one hand, it is free advertising for Halo. One the other hand, you don't want to water it down. Cortana has a particular personality that is very important to the Halo franchise. There may have been some in Microsoft who weren't willing to turn her into a mass phone function.

Cortana is actually the AI computer character in Halo. So, I presume Microsoft owns every right to that name...

Probably USA first since it takes time to localize all the functionality. Although they would be foolish if they didn't include it to some extend worldwide but turned off. That way regular users wont have to deal with something that doesnt work properly for them but WP enthousiasts can still show her off.

There was an article on WPcentral about the languages it will support at launch. So, I think it will be available worldwide. It also had English-India, so we won't have to suddenly twist out voices into an American accent to talk to her.

I really wish we could name it whatever we wanted. And Microsoft needs to integrate this within their other services ASAP. That way I could ask Cortana about the newest Xbox One game from my phone, and vocally tell her to purchase it. Then when I get home, it is already downloaded onto my console.

Cortana could really take this "One Microsoft" concept so much further.

Well, I felt a 30 minute powerpoint presentation about all of the ways a Cortana personal assistant could integrate fully into the One Microsoft vision to be a bit long for a blog comment. ;)

Yeah, but people like taking information that was put out months ago and regurgitating it as their own feature idea/request.

Yeah there is a "lady" in Paris ... She is by the alley in and around the eiffel tower you can talk to her and everything but she will charge you on an hour basis so clear doubts quickly...:P

Am I the only one around here who expects cortana to be like the operating system 'Samantha' as in the movie "Her" ?

No there not! Lol But for tho, in a few yrs I see her becoming like that with advances in AI and processing power. Still ScarJo's voice would be plus! Jen Taylor is cool too...

I hope , i hope , i hope it will launched worldwide not only for US in the first year .

Most will compare it to Siri but I think it will be more of a Google Now competitor. Siri is amateur hour compared to GNow. You are going to need to sacrifice some privacy. People complain about how much information Google Now needs but if you want something more than a coversation with Siri you will need to let it have access to more of your info. Just like Google Now with the package tracking and flights detected from emails. People complained up the ass. Wonder what they think now.

i see alot of commentscabout privacy. I think Microsoft needs to be crystal clear on how they use the data compared to Google. Actually, a, nice long simple advertisement with Bill Gates telling us how Microsoft cares about privacy would be a good move.

Questions to answer include:

  • Where is informatin from the notebok stored?
  • How many locations will house the data?
  • When will the databe expunged?
  • Will Microsoft mine the data dor commercil puposes or sell the sata, even anonymous data?



It is a competitor because it helps WP compete with other mobile os's with similar service... mainly iOS and Android. Cortana will be another factor for people when choosing which platform to go with. If you want a good voice/personal assistant on your mobile device, you can basically rule out Blackberry 10 when compared to iOS, Android and WP8

I just really hope you don't have to speak to Cortana all the time to use it - Google Now is smart because it's subtle when you need it to be, whereas you always need to talk to Siri to get anything done and tbh you look silly doing so

Won't this be announced at Build itself? And why does Rich keep saying "WP8.1 will be announced later this year?"

He wrote "released" not announced. And that's because 8.1 should only start to hit current unbranded devices during Summer. And given the time carriers take, it's safe to say the process will only be finalized by late 2014.

Definitely wanna hear her. Hopefully English will be her voice. Cortana is coming in other languages too, right?

Well.. the question whether its fake or not is pretty useless since the title of the video says it all: "Concept video"

I hope we can call it what we like as well.. I mean Cortana is kinda strange name to call out every now and then. More customization = More awesome.

In the MUI strings it was clearly written something alongs the lines of "Change Cortana's language". Not "Change < + 's> language". So seems like their will be no customization...

I better be, I mean, 4s had a dual core 800mhz with 512RAM, so 520 should run similar program flawlessly

I'm sure an enterprising dev will take the second screentshot and create an app that turns it into the first screenshot and make bank at $1.99/ea from Halo n3rds ;)

I'm just glad they kept the name. There's nothing stopping them from implementing her actual likeness in a future update.

If Cortana's animated image shows up like Xbox avatars while searching instead of just icon and text that would be epic.

as long as you can control that feature...keep in mind not everyone is a halo fan and some people would probably be weirded out by that