Meet XiaoIce, a Chinese chatbot that works with their version of Cortana

Microsoft launched the Chinese version of its Cortana digital assistant, called Xiao Na, a few weeks ago with the launch of Windows Phone 8.1 in that country. Now the company is talking more about a related project called XiaoIce ("Little ice") that has been designed to offer human-like conversations on Chinese social networks.

A team at Microsoft's Bing division helped to develop XiaoIce, which can act as an AI friend on networks such as Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter. Last week, Microsoft also added access to Xiaolce in Xiao Na for users of the Developer Preview version of Windows Phone 8.1. The company stated:

"XiaoIce is a sophisticated conversationalist with a distinct personality. She can chime into a conversation with context-specific facts about things like celebrities, sports, or finance but she also has empathy and a sense of humor. Using sentiment analysis, she can adapt her phrasing and responses based on positive or negative cues from her human counterparts. She can tell jokes, recite poetry, share ghost stories, relay song lyrics, pronounce winning lottery numbers and much more. Like a friend, she can carry on extended conversations that can reach hundreds of exchanges in length."


Microsoft said the Bing development team looked at over seven million Chinese public conversations on the Internet to help give XiaoIce more natural and human sounding responses. Currently, XiaoIce has over 850,000 followers on Weibo. Anyone who can understand Mandarin Chinese can check out this digital assistant on the XiaoIce website.

Source: Microsoft

John Callaham
  • Hmm. Has anyone asked Cortana to tell you a ghost story? Brb!
  • No!!
  • She can't...
  • Just tried myself. That must be a china only feature atm.
  • They love their ghost stories.
  • She responds to "Tell me a story".
  • America..
  • So it's an AI bot for people with no friends?
  • Always alone
  • Forever!
  • Well I wonder if the same thing is being brought to countries that are new to Cortana but for their specific region and language
  • So, John.. Will the US be getting a version of this?
  • CORRECTION: The world
  • Right.. That was selfish of me.
  • When it will come to other region ?
  • Wow, seems more powerful than Cortana. Rocks to be a Chinese speaker.
  • Captain, I got a question, if I change my phone's region to China do I get access to Xiao Na? Currently using Developers Preview in US.
  • I'm afraid the language will have to be changed to Chinese, too.
  • Mandarin, the language is Mandarin
  • Q: What is the difference between Chinese and Mandarin? A: The terms 'Chinese' and 'Mandarin' are usually used interchangeably. There isn't really much difference. However, Mandarin strictly refers to the most commonly spoken dialect in China while Chinese can also be used to refer to the other dialects spoken (i.e. Cantonese).
  • The main distinction is between written and spoken languages. Chinese refers to the written form, Mandarin and Cantonese refer to the two major spoken forms.
  • Chinese as a whole is a language, Mandarin and Cantonese being "dialects" of that language. For example, although Americans and New Zealanders both speak English, they both have their own "slang terms" that are endemic to each (for example pronounciation of Aluminum (I'm kiwi, so I say a-loo-min-num) and instead of flip-flops we call them jandals here). Similarly, Mandarin and Cantonese have their own differences, the main difference being the 'pinyin' or how each chinese character is pronounced. So this character 好 in Mandarin would be said as 'hao', but in Cantonese it might be 'ben' or something else. Ironically though, in both dialects the character still mean the same thing (meaning if someone who was fluent in Cantonese wrote a book, a person fluent in Mandarin could still read and understand it). Cantonese and Mandarin are the two main dialects in China by the way, there are dozens that exist there. (by the way I studied Chinese so it was interesting to hear my Chinese teacher tell me all this stuff :P)
  • The same character can mean many things by the means of pronunciation e.g the same word is spoken but the pitch is changed at beginning and or end. Simply starting your word with a higher note and ending in low completely changes the meaning of the same word spoken in a neutral tone, low then high and variations of such. Complicated and difficult to learn but most Chinese would say English is also difficult. Take the word F@#k for example.... This can mean having sex, something is good, bad, ouch, broken and much more with no change in pitch necessary.
  • Yep, that sound like how I understood it except I thought Mandarin and Cantonese were different spoken languages rather than just different dialects. Aluminum though -- not sure if that's 'official' kiwi dialect rather than just borrowed from US TV ;-) I've never heard a kiwi say aluminum. Also in that example it actually comes from the alternate spelling of the word: aluminium vs aluminum, and in NZ we use the former. I know it was just an example but I'm a bit of a stickler :D
  • I think we all know a person like this that interrupts your conversation.
  • Reminds me of a teacher from school who used to just jump into a conversation as he walked by.
  • Meet my balls. There are many like them but these ones are mine. They contain millions of our species.
  • Thank you for MS afford, but at the same time pls improve Chinese input prediction, it might helps much for most users.
  • Already use in Weibo awhile ago, not bad at all.
  • Xiao Bing has come to Xiao Na? Too bad, I changed my phone's language to English and didn't know that
  • They just made Cortana more powerful than any one elses in a place where support is almost non existent
  • XiaoEyes...
  • FYI:  The Chinese word for "Ice" is "Bing".
  • sounds cool!!!!!!!!!!!1