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New leaked screenshot suggests "Cortana" is not just limited to voice interactions

It's no secret that Microsoft has been working on a voice-recognition-based assistant to rival Apple's Siri and Google Now that will be included in Windows Phone 8.1 (aka, Blue). What is somewhat surprising, according to a newly leaked screenshot,  is that the assistant, which goes by the moniker "Cortana," does not appear to be limited simply to voice interactions.

Windows Phone Central first revealed the existence of 'Cortana' as a Siri competitor yesterday, though most major new outlets overlooked it.

A newly-leaked screenshot shows that there is more to Cortana than we first thought

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley wrote a detailed article today going into depth about Cortana. In it she details what you can expect in the upcoming digital assistant on your phone. The service will be powered by a concoction of services within in Microsoft. It will be part “Satori” knowledge repository powered by Bing, part Tellme, and other services within Microsoft to create your digital Cortana.

Mary Jo Foley goes on to explain that Cortana is just the beginning of a makeover to the entire “shell”. That shell consists of the core services and experiences that will be powering the next generation of Microsoft’s products from Windows Phone, to Windows 8, to Xbox One. But Cortana is going to be core to that shell and she’ll follow you wherever you go in the Microsoft ecosystem.

But don’t think for a moment that the shell is just the Metro interface you see in front of you when using Microsoft’s products. Instead here’s Steve Ballmer explaining it:

“Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it.”

We might just get our first glimpse of Cortana in early 2014 when Windows Phone 8.1 launches. Until then, the leaks will keep coming. Speaking of leaks...

Later, the Verge's Tom Warren tweeted out a picture showing the Cortana settings page, which included some non-voice related options. The first is the ability to add weather alerts to your alarms. It's a handy way to prepare for you day first thing in the morning.

Next is the option to sync your calendar at a certain time every night. Presumably, this is for non-Exchange calendars.

And lastly, the screenshot shows the option to prompt you to add your spouse or significant other to your start screen. This option could be related to Facebook or other social media outlets that allow users to fill out such personal information.

Also of note in the screenshot is a notifications section, which will likely be part of the Notification Center that we caught a glimpse of yesterday, along with multi-tile select.

Cortana first turned up by name on a Nokia Lumia 920 that purchased on eBay and was running Blue. It was initially thought that it would just be a voice-controlled personal assistant, much like Siri, but it appears that it will be much more than that, deeply embedded into the core of Windows Phone.

So why hasn’t Windows Phone had a personal assistant like Siri or Google Now yet? Mostly because Microsoft is waiting to do something revolutionary, instead of evolutionary in that space. From what we’ve seen of Cortana, she is very much going to be revolutionary.

From what we've seen and know at Windows Phone Central. Cortana is going to be revolutionary. Bing search on Windows Phone won't be the same as it's been. Instead, hitting the hardware Search key will bring up Cortana, from there you can automatically begin speaking or type your request. But Cortana won't be isolated to the hardware key, she'll be throughout the entire Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. Give her the option and she'll be able to read your text messages to help you add calendar reminders and more (there will be limitations, as the not everything could be acted on by the OS).

Cortana will leave popular Siri in the dust. We have already seen what Microsoft has done with voice functionality on Xbox and Kinect, and what they do with Windows Phone will be incredible.

Clarification: We should also note that those screenshots posted of 'Cortana' are from the zApp for internal testing. The actual UI for end-users will not look like that and is currently in flux for final layout.

Source: ZDNet, the Verge

279 Comments
  • Dear Microsoft, I don't care how much you have to pay Jen Taylor... but she absolutely needs to be the voice of the digital assistant. And you absolutely need to keep the name as Cortana. If not for me, think of the children. (But seriously, do it for me)
  • that would be tits!
  • Heyo!!!
  • +920 for Cortana! (and her voice)
  • http://www.g4tv.com/videos/61420/halo-4-cortana-actress-mackenzie-mason/
     @00:25
    "Wake up chief! I need you!"
     
    Siri doesn't stand a chance!
     
  • Face only...
  • +666
  • Screw this..... Yo Microsoft you keep talking about Unifiing Platforms Start HERE. 
    Give us Jen "Cortana" on all our Devices.  My Xbox One and Surafce Pro need her too.
  • they are already planning this. It just needs to be perfected before they rollout to all.
  • Windows Blue coming soon will be Microsoft's step at unifying the platforms... They also said: "Cortana is going to be core to that shell and she’ll follow you wherever you go in the Microsoft ecosystem." They weren't talking about your phone... they were talking about all the services... So that would mean that everything Microsoft will be implementing Cortana into every service at some point in time... I am really excited to see how Cortana turns out at that point!
  • Most probably Microsoft’s Cortana will launch Skynet  one day /S  LOL…
  • I have never played Halo, but this made me look cortana up, and I agree - the name has to stay, and the voice :D 
  • The will stay even if Microsoft changes it. It will be like Metro. It doesn't matter that Microsoft had to change it. We still use it.
  • Absolutely Cortana has to stay, if Microsoft changes it they would be complete idiots.
     
  • Me too did the same and it was love at first sight
  • 920+
    That will make it amazing.
  • I want an English accented woman :P Maybe even a hot Indian accent...yes..a hot Indian accent..
  • Southern trailer trash accented woman for me.
  • You too? :P
  • I want eminem for my phone's voice lol
  • +1
  • are they really going to use her or just the name? 
    hopefully theyll add a guy and be another xbox character. 
  • John-117 isn't as catchy.
  • Microsoft owns Master Chief as well... If you want a male voice they can make it happen.
  • If they wanted to stick with Halo AI, they could use Roland from Spartan Ops.
  • Absolutely! To us huge Halo fans, it would be so much better than say SkyNet and the bazillion references from The Terminator universe.
  • Oooooor 343 Guilty Spark!
  • If not master chief as the male voice, then Sgt. Reynolds (Nathan Fillion).
  • Uhh 343 Guilty Spark, anyone? That would be even better than Cortana, IMO.
  • Haha I agree!
  • THIS!!
  • +100 .. One of the best things Microsoft has done recently. Using xbox/halo characters is just awesome. Hope and pray they continue with this name and don't come up wth something like "Microsoft personal assistant version 1" :)
  • I agree! Only MS can come up with such lame names as "Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 Blue with Integrated Personal Cloud Assisted Technologies XP - Cortana Version 1.0"
  • Cortana's been my screen saver since Halo 4 released. This is awesome news especially if Jen does the voice.
  • Halo Bore imo.
  • Yea but in all fairness Jen has a good voice.... she was picked out to be an AI after all... which is now the worlds most famous video game protaganists personal assistent... plus every halo fan worth anything would buy a phone just to have even if they keep using their iPhone so yes i would call it a good idea haha....
  • And they should add Cortana hologram on next generation devices ..
  • that would be so cool, but I fear it would be at least 2050 until we see that adopted in the consumer space, if not later;
  • Where's the petition because I'm about to get everyone I know plus the kids (200+) at my work to sign it just to make it happen. Me getting WP8 is already worth it, but this would just amazing @_@
  • I would definitely sign that petition! Cortana on my Lumia would be awesome! :D
  • Sam is right cortana on our phones :)
  • Completely agree!
     
    But I *hope* this isn't just a reaction to Siri and Google Now. I hope microsoft does something with it (IIRC, they said they wouldn't add a Virtual assistant until they could do something new and amazing with it). Hopefully what Motorola did with the Moto X showed them what Voice actions can do (Disclaimer: I'm a fan of iOS, Android, AND Windows Phone. I like ALL mobile platforms, and dislike being stuck in a single platform).
  • Sorry to ride this to the top, but this will be my new alarm clock:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIa2QdoFLRU
     
    I just hope my wife doesn't mind too much.
  • +920. I cannot support this comment any harder. Do it, MS! I've been wanting this for years!
  • But I can... +925
  • +920
  • I like Cortana but I think the male option should be Master Chief. That would be interesting....
  • I'll with you bro, MS should used Master Chief as the alternative male voice and that would be very awesome. I have skinned my Surface with Master Chief's picture and it's been drawing attention wherever I go.
  • screenshots pleeaze
  • Really? If you wanted a male AI on your phone I would think 343 Guilty Spark would be the perfect voice. But as for the female it should definitely be called Cortana and it should definitely be Jen Taylor's voice only. No halo fan would accept anyone else and hopefully Microsoft knows this. 
  • I will not be happy until I have the true cortano waking me up with "Cheif, I need you.".
  • for now extract the audio from this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIa2QdoFLRU and use it as you alarm sound ;)
  • 343 Guilty Spark as the male counterpart?
  • how about an elite? Everything would be all backwards and modulated
  • Ok man repost that near the top.... that's a great idea... I love master chief but 343 would be EPIC as a male voice
  • +1 for keeping the name of Cortana
  • Think I would prefer Lara Croft
  • Ellen Mclain (GLaDOS) please.
  • +100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
  • ROFLMAO... "If not for me, think of the children. (But seriously, do it for me)"
  • I just told my sons about Cortana and they about shit themselves. "Everyone knows Cortana, that is going to be awesome!" I couldn't agree more. Definitely need her voice for it to work.
  • I WANT JEN TAYLOR AS THE VOICE OF CORTANA IN MY PHONE!!!
  • Dear Microsoft
    As MS fans, we have taken a lot of hits.
    Now let's deliver some punches.
  • If one of the total morons that populate Microsoft's marketing decides to change this name I hope we learn who he was so we can lynch him. Cortana - the best name for voice assistant on MS platform.
  • It would def be someone in marketing that botches this. 
  • +1
  • I really hope they stick with Cortana. It's already a damn hit before it's even been showcased!
     
    Do it MS.
  • Iris Classon
  • lolwhat?
  • I would also like an option of Mortal Kombat or UNREAL announcer.... Killing spree :)
  • RAMPAGE!!!
  • TOASTY!
  • Totally agree, that would be awesome.
  • You would think Microsoft would keep it "Cortana." I could see them integrating it into xbox and all their services under the one name.
    Plus it would make all the Microsoft fanboys happy. (pft like they care about that...)
  • Right thats what i really like about this idea! cause in halo, she really is everywhere in those systems!
  • Agreed should def be cortana with the real cortana voice. Nothing less is acceptable!
  • ^this. Cortana talking to me would be awesome. have a "snarky" option as well.
  • +1
  • +920!
  • I don't know about the Cortana voice, I mean it sounds good to me but what about non-English speaking people?
  • Cortana will make evreyone to learn English!
  • Halo is dubbed to plenty of languages... just bring those voice actors back.
  • Agreed!
  • I'm with you 920% Sam!
     
    Cortana is such a great branding to go with.  Granted, I played Halo and loved what the Cortana character added to the storyline and the humorous comments as you played the game.  And yes, it totally helps that Cortana is an AI construct that happens to look totally bodacious :)
     
    I am LOVE LOVE LOVING this new info.  Cortana looks to have the potential to school both Siri and Google Now.  And that's a good thing, because dispite the gimmicky bits of Siri, she can do some useful things.  And Google Now is quite clever in it's own right.  I give props when they are due.   Having Cortana be so deeply embedded and be multi-platform is killer!
     
    The multi-device angle is very key.  I can't tell you how happy my wife was when her aging Lumia 900 automatically pulled down photo albums from her SkyDrive, including our wedding pics.
  • Hoping for a nice Scottish accent aka the voice of Merida in Brave... That would be phenomenal.
  • You know -Majel Barrett - the voice of the computer on Star Trek - The Next Gen wouldn't be bad either.  Not as sexy, but just as geeky.
  • She's dead. Jen Taylor all the way!
  • Somebody needs to get a petition going on this. It might be the most amazing thing technology has ever done for us!
  • "Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."
     
    So Windows Phone is getting a Smart AI? Hopefully it doesn't go rogue and acquire a God Complex after too many years of use.
  • I'm going to have to go see how she sounds. (Only XBOX owner who has never played Halo)  From the picture she makes me think of how Viki from iRobot would look.
    I'd be up for voice options though.  I'd gladly take Zordon from Power Rangers. ;) 
  • agreed!
  • even though i only ever played the first halo, that would be sick :)
  • this is what i am hoping for. all the time i was reading this article i was afraid that i could read sth like 'cortana is just a codename'...
  • ^^^ This! Also, because we live in the future, it'd be nice if a small hologram of a naked woman come project out of my Lumia 920 so she can pretend to be Bing-ing the answers to things on a laptop.
  • Petition to keep Cortana as the official name. http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/sugg...
  • +1020
  • +1 Million
  • Hell even I want make a contribution if that is possible!! Cortana's voice on all my MS devices... Can this be wet dream possibly coming true? Microsoft, make this happen!!
  • +infinity³
  • I don't even like Halo but they seriously need to keep it (her?) as Cortana.
  • So excited to hear Cortana every morning on wp8.1 :D hope they keep the voice and name
  • Does this mean that they will also use Roland's voice as well if you want a males voice instead?
  • I want MK guy, choose your destiny, flawless victory, fight!!!
  • LOL, nice one!
  • Actually even better, KI guy( since ms owns KI)...*ordering food* "what should I get" "ULTTTTTRRRRAAAAAAAA CCCCCCCOOOOOOMMMMMMMBBBBBBOOOOO"
  • Nice! Having Cortana with me will be awesome! Cortana is just as much Halo as Master Chief is. I don't think Roland has that status, or will.
  • Oh stop it WPCentral. In 2013 leaks are not leaks anymore; it's done on purpose.
  • Um.....
    this is a confirmed thing MS is doing.
  • @Vistaus You really, really need to stop pretending you know anything about this business. Because I assure you, you don't and your comment clearly reveals this fact. These leaks are not done on purpose, I know because I know how we get the information. You don't. So just go back to reading the articles.
  • I agree with your comment to a certain extent Daniel. There are controlled leaks that are done specifically for hype and marketing. A perfect example: look at the EOS/1020 leaks back in June.
  • Yep i agree with you and Daniel.
  • Cool down, daniel
  • Yeah, where did that come from...?
  • First of all: that first sentence was a bit harsh.
    Second of all: wow, you don't seem to have any sense of humor. I was just making a joke. But xconomicron is also right.
  • Probably because your original post kind of suggests that the WPCentral writers lack the intelligence to know what is going on in an industry that they follow for a living.  If you were making a joke, you forgot the smiley face.
     
    I have no doubt that a small number of leaks are actually intentional publicity stunts.  However, in most cases leaks show off the product in an unpolished state or in a somewhat unflattering way.  They also show off things that are experimental and may not make it into the final product.  Finally, they give away key strategy and inovation details to competitors long before the product will be available in the market.  MS Marketing department jokes aside, it's hard to believe that any company would do that to themselves.
     
    I would be more inclined to believe a leak was fake if it came out 2 days before the official launch and showed the product in a perfect state.
  • Wow. First quite a few people on the internet tell me that I should drop those smileys in jokes because it makes me look like a child and now that I forced myself to dislike smileys I should use smileys again? Damn, what has become of this world where you can't even tell a joke without a smiley? Are you like that in real-life, always a big smile on your face when you tell a joke? All in all I'm gonna drop this. Apparently, I need to decide on a site-to-site basis when or when not to use a smiley in a joke.
  • Just do whatever you like and don't listen to people. Are you gonna rob somebody if someone tells you to? Its hard to sense the tone of context so you try to phrase it so readers know you're joking. Or else nobody knows you're joking and just being an ass.
  • Wow, don't take it personal.  But at the same time I enjoy seeing the feisty Dan Rubino.  You show pasion for your craft and that makes people keep reading.  
  • pumped
  • But will it speak Swedish?
  • *she :P
  • Ha ha ha
  • Frågan på allas läppar!
  • Or danish? Or will we at least get the option to speak English to her?.. Tired of MS locking down all the good features for people that aren't natively speaking English.. Most Scandinavians speak both English and the local language equally well.. So let us use the features instead of taking the decisions for us! :)
  • BORK BORK BORK.
  • A funny attempt at Swedish! Lol
  • Nynorsk?
  • They should focus on 3rd party software. Their own software is already good (sometimes meh), but 3rd party software is what's keeping people away from Windows Phone. If I can get all my games, and all my apps, for 1/2 of the price or less than anything else, why wouldn't I go with that (it being Windows Phone).
  • This is important too. Windows Phone will benefit with an answer for Siri and Google Now. Besides, Microsoft is a large company. The engineers working on this will nit distract from other non-engineer, business types who negotiate with other companies. Microsoft needs more than just "me too". They need killer differentiators for people to switch and this might be one of them. My biggest fear is that if it is amazing, that MS will port it out and hand it over to Android and iPhone users.
  • Man. Can't wait to hear it in action... jejeje
  • ^^^This guy is right ... Make me feel like Master Chief
  • Nice.! I just hope it'll be usable in all countries and not just the US on day one.
  • We can dream... It took almost 2 years for a lot of the WP7 hyped features to spread anywhere else. Even now they don't work properly i.e. Bing search, vision translate, barcode scanning (only QR & MS tags allowed). "Tell Me" is a frustrating experience too - I hope the voice recognition is vastly improved...
  • Sounds amazing....and I want it now. :)
  • I would preset my name as CHIEF.
  • I got chills of joy reading Tom's and WPC's article. Man...
  • I want her to address me as Master Chief. But the real question is how long until she develops Rampancy?
  • Hehe halo reference.
  • Ha ha ha ha ha
  • 6 years....and all she will do is scream at you incoherently.
  • So....its like being married?
  • I will not, allow you, to leave.. this.. PLATFORM! http://youtu.be/ukBt8UItEVA
  • LOL
    ...but no one keeps a phone for 6 years, so it should probably be fine.
  • Never because she won't be a smart AI.
  • I smell the beginning of skynet...named Cortana!!!
  • DANG IT, WP CENTRAL, STOP BLOWING MY MIND!!!
  • Imagine your phone saying "chief dentist appointment at 3pm". :)
  • http://satireknight.wikispaces.com/file/view/mind-blown.jpg/381910070/mind-blown.jpg
  • LOL IM SUPER PSYCHED ABOUT THIS!!!
  • LOL
    And then "We have to hurry!" when your running late.
  • Note: "concoction" is a wonderful word - should use it more.
     
    I'm really excited about this news, looking forward to what MS has in store here.
  • I really want the voice of JARVIS.
  • +920
  • The bummer about that one is getting tangled up with a Disney License to use "Jarvis". Would still be really cool!
  • Yay yuh !!!! Finally some good news
  • It has potential. I hope MS can deliver this without huge bugs.
  • Cortana as in Halo? Wow love the name :-)
  • And, as per Microsoft's standard, this will be completely useless outside the US. In Denmark we have neither Siri nor Google Voice. And that goes for most of Europe. Microsoft has huge oppotunities to leapfrog the competition by recognizing that there is a world outside the US. But, given their track record, that is unlikely to happen...
  • Not quite sure they're aware of that fact...
  • WPCENTRAL.!!! How the hell u guys find such stuffs?? Good work.! Keeps the leaks coming.!! 
  • I have been using TellMe and Kinect since they were first released and enjoy them, bit this news actually made giddy. (personal embarrassment) With moderate background noise TellMe is about 95% for me, I use it daily in all kind of ways. And my Kinect is in the higher 90's, I have not picked up a controller to navigate the dashboard or a video in quite sometime. Bringing all that function and addin