Microsoft and cyclist Danny MacAskill recreate Cortana on the River Thames in London

Microsoft Cortana Event

Microsoft invited the media to the River Thames in London this evening to see something special, the #MakeItHappen stunt. The company put on quite the show for Cortana, partnering up with "legendary trials cyclist" Danny MacAskill who attempted to recreate the famous Cortana icon in a loop on his chosen two wheels. The end result was impressive, as was the show itself. MacAskill performed the stunt not only in the vicinity of the river, but in the middle, between the banks, aboard a float, and situated just in front of the London Eye.

A short video was played just before MacAskill dropped below from the stand he appeared on. The stunt itself was short, a single run through the loop with Cortana appearing in the background. What was interesting was just how much preparation went into the stunt, from MacAskill getting the idea in the first place (with the help of Cortana and his Lumia 930, of course) to actually testing the loop before the evening commenced.

Microsoft Cortana Event

So what does MacAskill and tonight's event have to do with Cortana? It's an interesting question, which was put forward to Microsoft's Adam Johnson (opens in new tab) once the event was over. Microsoft plans to show off Cortana and how the personal assistant is not only a handy feature for consumers to take full advantage of, but how it wraps everything together within a Microsoft ecosystem, coupled with Xbox One, upcoming Windows 10 and cloud-based services.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • That's IT? Though I would like to see the stunt.
  • And no new features even? Very disappointed. That's not news. Someone find Microsoft a decent assistant who can tell out to 'em straight!
  • Yeah, video anywhere? Perhaps it was over before a 1020 could reload after a photo to switch to video...
  • LOL!!!!!!!!
  • That still an idea actually
  • This is actually likely going to be a very good promotion. We have COOL FACTOR, CELEBRITY and an EYE-CATCHING stunt. I look forward to seeing the video. :-) Which will probably be an edited post-production official release which is probably why we haven't seen it yet. The photos leading up to the event showed Danny preparing for the event with diagrams and things and he used Cortana as an assistant as well in prepping for the stunt. We'll likely see unofficial videos taken by onlookers ahead of Microsoft's official post-production release.
    Microsoft will likely edit/produce the official video to include those particular activities Danny engaged in as he used Cortana before the event, prepping his bike, the construction of the ramp, choosing the location etc. leading up to event to show how with Cortana's assistance with a task anyone can #MAKEITHAPPEN.
    This event/video will likely be the lead to a large campaign including social media and hopeful TV spots to highlight people from all fields and various walks of life setting a particular goal, then using Cortana to help #MAKEITHAPPEN.
    So at this point, just hearing about one run through a ramp, making the Cortana symbol and no video seems uneventful, but I think its just the first piece to a much larger campaign that will be launched post-production of the official video.(JLTechWord)
  • Agree, and I believe the video went viral as per So good news.
  • Yeah but in the video there is no one single Microsoft or Cortana words anywhere. Yes I know at the end we see that "That was impressive" or something, but it should say Cortana and MS all over the bloody river.  Bit of a shame really.
  • even better:
  • That's a classic example of a pathetic marketing..
  • Yeah. You know and Microsoft don't. Go home bro you are drunk!
  • Hit your head on the wall
  • Yeah right, they should've totally bought a little 2cm square box in the advertising section of a tabloid newspaper...
  • Yeap, that would be a stunt that Apple just cannot  achieve! After all SIRI would have to us an "S", or even a bitten apple!
  • Why? Lol
  • MacAskill is a very skilled trials rider and has a name many know. Check him out on teh YouTubez. Hey! This promo is better than no promo.
  • exclusive
  • exclusive
  • MS waste so much money, and for what? This doesn't do what I think they're hoping for.
  • They have so much money. Spending a little bit on advertising is nothing for them.
  • Waste?
    Armchair analysts have no idea lol.
  • Cortana isn't even very good in the UK. The voice is offputting, and we don't even have a good Bing experience either.
    Why waste the talent of MacAskill on a rubbish marketing thing like this?!
    They should have taken MacAskill to some beautiful part of the world - then made an amazing video of him doing his stunts (like the one he did recently in the mountains of Scotland) - recorded solely on Lumia's.
    Try harder MS.
  • Well to be honest, this is better than no promo. Not sure about the timing though, they should have done it at the same time as the UK launch of Cortana. I agree the voice is really off putting then again alot of Americans actually find that posh accent attractive lol.
  • Pathetic comments: The stunt is Cortana themed and nothing is more IT than Cortana!
  • So... the confirmed Cortana coming to Xbox One and Windows 10?
  • Yep. Considering the leaked screenshot of Cortana feature on Windows 10 technical prev, though it's still not working at the moment...
  • Wish they had a Lumia 1020. The pictures are pathetic.
  • Cortana makes Danny seem faster.
  • Hmm, your not sure they just sent a Mac enthusiasts as a Trojan hore? I mean Mac a skill....hmmm :)
  • With such an event, one could have expected to get a date, Cortana launched in the UK on the XXX, etc. I guess they said nothing, so Cortana, outside the US, is a kind of urban legend for the non geeks. You can read about Cortana on Microsoft's windowsphone website, in France, in the UK, etc. But imagine a non expert, non geek. Wow, there's an event in London, but for what? An option disabled on my phone. And enabled when? Oops, forgot to mention.   I hope we get Cortana in Europe (UK, France, Germany at least) quickly. The issue will be how relevant Bing is in Europe, as all efforts are put mainly in the US.   But I'm pretty sure Microsoft will tackle these challenges. They have to.
  • I was thinking the same when I saw that the "secret event" in London was focused on Cortana: "Hey, these bloody Britons are so lucky!" ;)
    But... All that fuss for this?? Very disappointing indeed for non-English speakers: if you or the Indians have to wait this long...what about the rest of us? You forgot to mention the Italians: They're really fond of WP and deserve some good news soon!
  • Thank you Man from Italy...besides..i believe it is a very useless stuff...waste of Money. Imho.
  • Hey, you Italians get the sunshine, we Brits get Cortana. Quit complaining lol
  • Yes of course, and Spanish too by the way ^_^
  • Cortana will hit in Beta with Denin+Update 1 in UK.
  • Which one of the big carriers is not rolling out until 2015....
  • Wow 2015 it's soooo far away --' like a century. They said probably January, tops Feb.
  • Yes, but it's a matter of consistency. They promote something well ahead of its public availability (non geek audience, non 830/730 devices). For the same reason, MS are not releasing a flagship because W10 is not there, so they're wiaiting to have THE product to launch it correctly. They feel WP8.1 as a weakness on a major MS flagship (like Symbian was criticized when the 808 was released, great cameraphone but shitty OS was the general trend on blogs). W10, flagship are coming next year, not a big deal (and I'm not frustrated, will wait for W10 patiently, I'm happy with my 1020). But then, if I can understand that (risky) marketing approach, why advertise a non-existent service? It will come to the greater public in Jan, Feb 2015? People are seeing the video and can't go test Cortana somewhere instantly. Sounds a bit anticipated to me, with a timing which could have been better. Anyway, nice stunt. Not sure the Cortana message for the non experts is clear though.
  • Verizon?
  • Back in the day, when there was only "5" WP users this comment section was so much nicer to read through....
  • Yeah, sad how something so neat is still being turned into a negative. It's kind of depressing really.
  • People here complain about everything :(
  • You can't make everyone happy, if that was possible then the world would be a better place.
  • Idk, I would get board with nothing to complain about, no one to swear at, and WC would not be able to email me with warnings....
  • Very true, ah the days of my LG Optimus 7 *misty eyed*
  • I missed that day... :(
  • Amazing. I wish I could have been there! it should have been nice to see him live, get a sign and stuff. These guys are really amazing.   and Note to complainers, stop being pathetic. it's good Microsoft supports cool people like MacAskill with things like this. live events. it's obvious it wouldn't be long, but I am sure it was nice for people who were there. I know people have hard time using their brains, but Microsoft by supporting sports and having partnerships with Real Madrid and supporting "small" extreme sports like this, or anything like that, they can get good reputation, and maybe people will not think Microsoft it's old and boring and uncool. I don't drink Red Bull but since they started to support these kind of sports that not many cared about, it's what made me think Red Bull is a cool company even if I don't drink energy drinks. understand? I know you want to complain, because you are probably fat peolpe that only know how to move the fingers to compain. but image has the same importance as any product they can release. there are already many phones available, and more will come from MS and other companies, I think it's fine they just wanted a small event where they could promote a small feature from WP while still showing a cool talented guy doing a nice trick, yes by supporting a cool guy. and I hope many more talented guys, events and teams will be supported and this is just a start. I wish I was on his feet, but I was never too good and never took it too serious, but still I appreciate a company that likes to make people like this the center of events and stuff. maybe people it's jealous or don't understand Microsoft could release 90 phones today, and then if Microsoft doesn't play good card and keep the uncool image some people think it has, then nobody will buy any of those 90 new phones.   Is this strategy too bad or too wrong complainers? even a small rock can cause many things, nothing has to be huge to cause a big effect
  • Write much?
  • Heaven forbid a person should be made to read.
  • Good promo, but I was expecting something like what Nokia did with Deadmau5 back in the day they launched the Lumia 800
  • Well seeing as this was an event to pique curiosity, if the organisers had greater aspirations... unfortunately for them it can't be more than that as Cortana has not officially launched in the UK. So to have a massive event would be more damaging than shooting themselves in the foot with a bazooka. Personally I'm not really sure on the timing, Denim is not going to be rolled out for awhile yet and since Cortana is officially enabled by Denim.. The chatter created by this event will die down in a few days. Unless they can push out a separate update to enable it for the general public without the need for Denim.
  • UK 930 on Cyan and Cortana is working with UK voice, language etc. Is this not official?
  • Can't believe I was in London tonight and missed this :(
  • Looks amazing, just like their phones............Wp just keeps going, NEVER GIVE UP
  • Cheers!
  • Damn I missed it! The prices you pay for working night shifts lol...
  • Hm.. The "stunt" doesn't have the wow factor.. Lasts only a few seconds and not even worth bragging about!
  • They seem to be celebrating... The closer Of One O.S
  • Oh.. I get it... The "loop" is a circle, just like Cortana's "Halo"... /s Seriously though, I'm all for Cortana and everything Microsoft, but they've been doing much more elaborate stunts in your everyday traveling circus for years. Am I missing the big attraction here???
  • And yet Cortana is unable to give bicycle directions or locate the closest bike share dock :(
  • No news about Cortana speaking more languages soon...I don't care this honestly. What's the point to make this with no big announcement???
  • Danny Mac gets some serious social media attention with his bike vids here in the UK. Not sure about the rest of the world? I think this will be a great advert for windows phone and Cortana. Nice one MS. Now sell the Band over here!!!!
  • Not bad at all but MS should make something like this:
  • Ok I've just been asked by a colleague who's heavily into cycling etc, to have a play with my phone, has never shown any major interest previously......why?....Last nights event. I'd never heard of this guy but he's a big deal in his chosen field and don't forget, he approached Microsoft to do this. You'd think from the comments that its wrong for MS to support sportsmen who come to them with an idea for a stunt, it was pretty dam cool thing for them to do and will garner lots of press in the cycling magazines and interviews with the guy about why etc
  • Nothing against the stunt and I think it's great Danny approached them. I think it will help add some interest to WP considering the usual bicyle groups use iPhones as they hang out at coffee shops after their ride on the weekends. This may start a change. The sad part behind this is that Cortana is only on the new phones currently. We dont' have the official Update 1 so the majority of WP users using older hardware either have it via DP or don't have it at all. I think it would have been nice to do this once it was out for everyone. Imagine somone buying an older phone wondering where Cortana is? No point bringing up the fact that MS services in general are still sub par here. Would have been nice to announce a store or something. Oh well, can't have everything.
  • Its would be good if Cortana was on all windows phone in the UK but it isn't therefore what are you even promoting, something in beta....utter rubbish
  • Well if a big UK centric promotion, coincides with a major Cortana update, to acceptably better performance, then I will not complain. At some point marketting has to be supported by a goof enough product. Similarly for Global Cortana services, when W10 is launced.
  • a none news.
  • Lame