Here's what Microsoft's Cortana was almost called before you changed everything

In hindsight, Microsoft naming its personal voice assistant after the famous AI character from the Halo game series seems like an obvious choice. The decision was not so easy partially due to an individual studio having initial objections and the usual corporate obstacles potentially thwarting its adoption.

But if not Cortana what would Microsoft have called their feature smart engine for Windows Phone?

In an interesting Twitter conversation with Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, it's revealed 'Alyx' was an early frontrunner for the official name, instead of Cortana.

So what changed their mind? It was you, the vociferous multitudes of dedicated Windows Phone users, who clamored for Cortana with all your might, that's who.

In a series of Tweets tonight, Ash explained how it happened:

"We looked at uservoice and saw that (via leak), our customers liked the idea of the #Cortana name. Gave us confidence it was a good idea"One thing not mentioned in the Cortana name discussion as part of #MeetMSFT was importance of our community in choosing the name.""…But our community spoke and folks like @joebelfiore had our back…"

The leak Ash refers to screenshots of a very early build of Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and 8.1 last June that made their way on to the internet. As a result, the zCortana app, which was one of the first versions of the nascent service, was spotted in the screenshots and from there, a campaign began to convince Microsoft to use the moniker.

The rest, as they say, is now history. But just remember, we could have had Alyx instead of Cortana.

Source: @MarcusAsh; Thanks, Daniel, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.