Microsoft's Susan Hendrich dishes on the development of Cortana


We’ve been playing with Cortana for the past few weeks and it was just a few days ago that you all joined in on the fun with the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. You know what we think about Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1 because of our review. And the community seems to be responding positively to the feature as well. Now we get to meet the principal program manager lead at Microsoft who spearheaded Cortana’s personality thanks to a new blog posting at Microsoft’s JobsBlog.

Susan Hendrich has been working on Cortana for over two years. She’s been directly responsible for Cortana’s personality – that’s both written, spoken and the circle representation. Going forward, she’ll be working on the natural language experience with Cortana.

Susan Cortana

The blog post focuses primarily on what’s it like to work at Microsoft, but we do get to learn a few interesting tidbits about Cortana.

Did you know that the Windows Phone team interviewed the personal assistants of many celebrities to find what makes them successful? This led them Susan and her team to give Cortana a personality that’s competent, caring, confident and loyal.

Check out the whole interview to learn what it’s like working at Microsoft and to learn a few other small details about Cortana. Pieces like that are important to remind us that people like you are working products we come to love.

Source: Microsoft JobsBlog


Reader comments

Microsoft's Susan Hendrich dishes on the development of Cortana


I love windows phone and cortana, but let's just be glad we have a competent assistant and stop bashing competition; let the greatness speak for itself

Oh.. Do you feel so? Try this then: Ask Cortana.., "who is your father?" Then after it replies.., ask her.."how old is he?" See how stupid Cortana is...!

Not sure what to say to this? Stupid? I asked exactly like you said and it gave me a Bing search result for his age. 

Was that the point? 


Either way I'm glad I have Cortana. It's pretty cool, especially for a non 1.0 product.

1) This is a beta.

2) Much better than the alternatives.

3) Let's see you do better.

4) Why you mad Bro?

They are continuing to work with Jen Taylor and recording her voice to make cortana sound much more real. This type of thing takes extensive time. Concatenation of natural language is not an easy task, and given the complexities of the English language and nuance it will take years for her to be whole. I have a feeling Microsoft and Taylor are in it for the long haul though, so we can look forward to an improved Cortana as time goes by!

Ans then there are much more complex languages like German and eventually we have the Asian languages; that's going to be a pain in the ass for Microsoft to get the pronunciations right. It is totally under understandable that Cortana will first only understand English. Though one would wish MS would eventually understand that English is also spoken outside the all mighty USA and that we would not have to set our region to USA just to get Cortana working.

That's weird, I have 2 HTC 8x's, 2 920's, 3 Icons, 3 Lumia 928's, 3 Lumia 822's, and none of the has given me issues!

Have you posted on the forums, because it seems like this is an issue with your WiFi, not necessarily the phone hardware or Cortana? I can't imagine Cortana using anything other than 80 or 443, but its always a possibility.

Yes there's a topic in the forums maybe ill reset my router. None of the phones. She works but doesn't search the net like she should.

Some people say you're right and some day otherwise. My Lumia 521 won't work with Cortana on WiFi. Have you heard about a fix for it yet?

I have been listening to Haunted Empire. I had forgotten that Siri was far from a great success when she was ruled out. It is great to see Cortana step up with far more on board than did Siri right out of the box.

What does the verb "to dish" really mean? I think I have been misinterpreting it my whole life. I thought it meant something negative. English is not my native language btw.

To dish is when, normally a woman or a homosexual, talks extensively and excitedly about a subject, usually gossip. That is to say that usually women and homosexuals use the word, not that they are the only ones who do it.

She seems to work well most of the time for me. The only thing I've had problems with is getting her to respond to the same questions as in the demos, i.e. "Who's your daddy?" and some others. When i tell her to tell me a joke, she gives me a list of Bing results.

I can't get Cortana to appear on my 920 in Australia, I have set region to US and time and date to US. Is there something I am missing. Please help

I have no idea? i hope someone helps you out on that but you can still ask cortana what's playing and she'll tell you

My god windows phone central, proof read your damn articles there are like 5 grammatical errors in a 3 paragraph article. God damn

Hey guys. Why does Cortana say ' Speech failed to work. Please try again'? I am not able to use speech in my 525. Please help. I am in India

She hates me. She never called me by my name. Opens up bing for every dan thing.i ask her to call a friend and she opened up bing for that. Why?

When I ask it who is your father... It says bill gates as expected..., when I try to continue the conversation by asking how old is he.... It thinks that I'm asking something else and searches in Bing nothing related to bill gates

She can't continue any conversation!
She won't call me by my name
She opens Bing for every damn thing!
When I ask her to call my dad she opens up Bing!
I did a couple of soft resets and one hard reset.
None of them solved the problem
I thought that opening Cortana via the app live tile hoping that it would solve all the problems
Still"NOTHING ' -_- I now use Assistant by SpeakToIt-it's a million times better than Cortana!>_<