Watch the full response as to why Microsoft is considering Cortana for iOS and Android

Earlier today it was reported that Marcus Ash, group program manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, was weighing the pros and cons of bringing Cortana to other platforms. The decision to do so is perhaps a lot more complicated than diehard Windows Phone fans would think when all factors get taken into account.

Now, a video of Ash's full response to the question of whether or not Cortana should stay on Windows Phone has been posted. In context, the question and answer is certainly a lot more complicated than one may think as there are benefits with either choice.

Although no firm answer is given, due to the ongoing deliberations by Microsoft, it's fascinating to hear their concerns as to why Cortana by being isolated to one platform could hurt the personal assistant. At one point Ash ponders what happens when Cortana jumps from Windows Phone to Windows 8:

"If I'm a Windows PC user and I have a Kindle tablet and an Android phone, how good is the Windows Cortana experience going to be if it doesn't know anything about what I'm doing with those devices? It's really a difficult question that we're spending a lot of time trying to figure out.""Clearly we want people to buy Windows, we have a bunch of Windows customers, hundreds of millions that have Windows PCs and would love for them to have a great Cortana experience because once they have that they will probably consider other devices and say 'Well, I want to match them up.' But how do we get Android users or these other iOS users that use Windows to have a great experience?"

Indeed, the problem Microsoft is struggling with is they are not selling just one device and service, but instead, many. That fragmentation makes it harder to shutout potential customers due to company hubris, and while Microsoft could take such a path, the Cortana experience itself could be degraded for non-Windows Phone users. Smartphones, after all, do provide a plethora of personal information about a user that a PC cannot.

It's not a trivial challenge and while it's easy to choose one side, it's only after looking at the full picture does the question go from black and white to grey.

Does the full response of Marcus Ash make you reconsider your original opinion on the matter? What do you think Microsoft should do?

Source: Mark Guim, Twitter

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

1000 Comments
  • Is it even coming to windows 8?
  • Why wouldn't it? Of course it is. And Xbox One.
  • Or 8.1
  • Can you elaborate? How would this happen? 8.1 better supported local searching, there has been little steering towards cortana/intelligent searching.
  • It should be more than obvious (and no big secret) that Microsoft is putting Cortana everywhere they can. Why wouldn't they? Xbox One, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The service is all cloud based for a reason. There's no reason why it can't be custom tailored.
  • I agree, Cortana everywhere is better for their development, with more users will grow faster and with more features, I like the idea, the only problem will be if they update Cortana with new and better features in other platforms first...
  • This is true. In addition to this, I assume that Cortana learns from people's queries. So on the back end, Cortana will keep improving just by having more people use it. It will improve in understanding accents and slang, as well as understanding the context of questions and follow-up queries. I think it would be good for Microsoft as a whole, but a sad day for windows phone if Cortana goes multi-platform.
  • Cortana being US-only is the single reason for  it to have little to no user base. If Microsoft wants to popularize it, release to other countries, where Windows Phone is more popular then the iPhone.
    We are almost in a state where Windows platforms are the worst place to use MS services... Apple don't care if you want to use other devices and keep the experience, you have to buy their devices, period.
  • The reason for us only is that Cortana is in beta mode and it's only available in preview version so it's not about popularity. It's kind of beta testing with the users outside of the company
  • Cortana is US only because it's in beta. They have to work out the bigger issues and tweaks before spending time to localize it. That said they are working on bringing it to some other countries at the moment.
  • While the ratio is lower, there are more people in the us that use wp Tha others... (lets say 30000 wp in someplace and 20000 iphone, in us 100000 wp 300000 iphone) btw figures not accurate
  • Cortana everywhere might be better for their development but at a huge cost of loosing an important differentiating factor that windows phones have. I hope Microsoft does not make this huge mistake. They need a foothold in the smartphone market desperately and should use all advantages they can. They already made the mistake of putting office on other mobile OS's. Besides, when Cortana is on windows PC and tablets, they will immediately get a huge database of people to,use to improve her further, so that excuse is nonsense.
  • I agree. Did they forget that their job is to make money? They need to keep their eye on the ball.
  • Exactly. Just look at Skype. Cortana could end up being one more reason people DON'T buy a Windows Phone. If MS wants WP to actually sell, they need to stop giving away all their exclusive features and push the unified ecosystem. I definitely think Cortana should be aware of what's happening on those other devices, but she should only be available on Windows devices.
  • Yup you maybe right but Ash's right in someway.If you don't show support to the majority then they will ignore you.Android and Ios has plethora of apps which is the only gap between them and Ios.Rest Camera Games and Hardware are all on par.But the problem is that people think that WS will not grow because of less apps i.e. less developer support.But if they extend some WP features then people might change their mentality about Windows Platform.But they should not provide all the features of these crucial apps.For example now see Moli Player in WP and Droid- WP has Wifi Transfer feature and Droid doesn't(though Droid has other apps to do the same maybe Kies Air) but what i'm saying is that they should extend Cortana but not the whole Cortana.If people enjoy the features of Coratana on other Platforms then they will want to switch to WP for the exclusive features of Cortana that only Windows will have.
  • Your reasoning is flawed the better more useful product will prevail how the hell do you think andoid caught up to IOS???? It wasn't over night
  • Cortana is maintained and updated on the back end, so no worries having one platform updated before others.
  • But what if they scrap the project? You can't say "of course" they're bringing it to Windows and Xbox if they haven't personally verified it themselves.
  • Unnecessary pessimism. Cortana is coming to Windows OS & XBox OS.
  • They are not scrapping Cortana.
  • Or.... custom "Taylored" ;)
  • Well done, Dean Lewis!!!
  • It is absurd to consider that Cortana wouldn't come to Windows 8.x.  It should be there already. What makes me worry about WP's future though, is that Windows 8.x is considered by Microsoft a different platform. (I do not mean technically, but philosophically speaking) 
      As for whether Cortana should be on iOS and Android... i am not sure i agree with this strategy. This would empower further iOS and Android and offer absolutely nothing to Windows Phone. Cortana is not the same case as MS Office. Their dilemma is a false one and i think if they move towards this one, expect the press to trounce them all over internet claiming they admitted defeat and they are abandoning their mobile OS. The hubs were a differentiating factor for WP. They were removed. Apple hired the lead Camera tech guy of Nokia. MS Office is everywhere now. If Cortana which is the only reason why anyone would buy WP today is shared with all other platforms, give me one good reason why anyone should buy a WP phone instead of iOS or Android.  
  • I like most of what salzeka says. Anything Windows, fine. Ios and Android already have their Siri and Google now, so let them carry on with those gimps.
  • It's not absurd as most likely, like the enhanced start menu, they'll save Cortana to be a Windows 9.x and use it as a reason for 8.x users to upgrade next year.
  • Cortana in it's current state is not a reason why a person would switch from iOS/Android to WP. Frankly, I can't imagine what the experience would have to be to cause a material amount of users to switch. Google Now and Siri are amazing in their own right so the only way others are going to experience Cortana is to make it available on other platforms.
    I believe that the largest opportunity for Microsoft to grow at the moment is within the emerging markets. The strategy of making its services available on other mobile platforms is the only viable strategy left to attract users in mature or saturated markets. I say this because in cases like the US, the battle has been lost and there is no catching up beyond incremental changes each year. It is such an emotional decision to switch smartphone OSes. One way to alleviate the trepidation is to already be comfortable with the services like Cortana, Office, OneNote, OneDrive, Skype, Lync, Xbox smartglass etc. Making the switch becomes that much easier when u know that your core favorite apps are coming with you.
  • Nobody who has a phone that is happy with is going to drop it just because of one feature. You can get used to Cortana on your Windows 8.x etc. The idea is to make Windows Phone the next choice for a number of reasons. And these reasons as of WP 8.1 i am sorry to say got less not more. MS jumped the gun and made concessions they shouldn't have. Their plan was working albeit very slow due to device turnover rates. There is absolutely no way to make it happen faster by becoming more like your competitors. By doing that, you lose all the difference you were making and you might as well make your own version of Android, skin it, and get over with it. They had exactly the amount of difference they needed, and with the additions they made in 8.1 (cortana, fancy screen, optimizations, notifications etc.) they could have been exactly what was needed. But not after removing and otherwise greatly altering main features of the platform. You will never make a move if you already have the features they are offering to you. :) When what they are offering to you is no more an alternative, but a mere variation with an additional learning curve.
  • Custom....Jen Taylored?
  • And for the same reasons should work fine on any platform, ios, Droid, whatever.
  • Do you want Skynet? Because, this is how you get Skynet.
  • A service like Cortana doesn't have an option to reside entirely on the client. Too feeble and devoid of the context required for it to mature. ( or learn in the AI sense )
  • Not sure if I agree with you fully Dan. I agree Cortana will come to Windows 9 but not Windows 8 due to the tarnished reputation of the OS. In April 2015 a new start menu, a more refined metro experience, a touch friendly version of Office and Cortana could help the next version of Windows have a Windows 7 reputation. Just my opinion based off of some articles/podcasts I frequent.
  • I should clarify that by '8' I mean Windows in general. And to be honest, I'm not sure it will even be called Windows 9. But yes, my guess is more along the lines of Threshold than a current update this year.
  • Microsoft please remember that there is no official YouTube application on WP, and you just give them the most unique and wonderful feature on Windows phone. What's wrong with you?
  • "and you just give them the most unique and wonderful feature on Windows phone"
    I really think you're overplaying the "unique" thing a big. Siri and Google Now are not exactly poorly received services on their respective platforms. Yes, Cortana has personality. It also has much less market share and is not a powerful as Google Now. Not yet. But Microsoft shouldn't overplay their hand on this one.
  • He's not wrong. Cortana is really unique as compared to Siri and Google Now. You already know about everything Cortana can do but Google now and Siri can't (even in beta). Hardly i can think of any such thing that Google now/ Siri can do over Cortana. "and is not a powerful as Google Now" I'm not sure what exactly you emphasize while saying powerful but Google now is worse. Only thing better in it is that it can recognize voice faster than Cortana but then Cortana operates the command faster so makes a tie. Talking of features, Cortana has more to offer. I've Google now in my Android phone and used it a lot, more than Cortana and i can say is not even close to Cortana.
  • Assuming Cortana is the best, how would iOs an Android users ever know if it's not available to them? Also, since Cortana is powered by Bing, wouldn't this increase revenue for MS? I think it's something that MS has to seriously consider.
  • They would know if Microsoft would finally achieve better advertisements.
  • @Bananji
    LOL! Good marketing expecting from Microsoft? It's been always a let down from Microsoft...
  • You are right on that...99% of Microsoft ads make me cringe! The best one was that original xbox one where the baby gets launched into the air and grows older until it hits the grave, lol!
  • @Editguy1900
    Alright, I ask you what if they even come to know Cortana is better? Will they buy a WP next? No. Why should they ? .... when they get every amazing feature that WP has to offer? I'm not sure if Cortana will still be powered by Bing if its ever ported to Android. Google won't accept it, simple. And I think its a really, really bad idea considering current status of WP and future of WP development. Its beneficial for Microsoft though.
    Sorry for talking about WP and Microsoft separately. But MS is behaving as if WP is not their creation lately.
  • You're still being short sighted, Microsoft made a killer feature with this iteration of WP, because they're having to compete, this isn't an original feature. It's a feature that is on other devices but executed well, you know, the same way Apple built up their reputation. What's stopping them adding another killer feature with the next big update to the Phone OS? We've already heard about their plans for Kinect and 3D touch. They are playing the long game, as stated in the video, it's not just about what will sell phones now, putting Cortana on other platforms is the way forward for MS, data is how the big companies compete, like it or not, with Cortana comes troves of data, with Cortana on other platforms that grows exponetially. Just look at Google, if you don't realise that Android was about keeping search with Google and therefore keeping the data and revenue then you are misguided.
  • "the same way Apple built up their reputation. "
     How? By giving Siri to other platforms?
    " We've already heard about their plans for Kinect and 3D touch."
    Fine, that's really a plus for WP. But how's porting Cortana to iOS / Android changes people's mentality to choose WP over those? They'll, in contradiction, and most probably remain intact with their devices. They'll keep believing MS would continue provide features that WP originally had to them in future (even that's what they're still doing now).
    "putting Cortana on other platforms is the way forward for MS"
     Agree, Microsoft may move forward (if they allowed Cortana to use Bing) but for WP, its a one step backward.
    "Just look at Google, if you don't realise that Android was about keeping search with Google and therefore keeping the data and revenue then you are misguided."
    Not sure what you exactly mean by this. 
  • You're incorrect on this one. Cortana's data is locally stored only. MS was very clear on that.
  • Cortana can't be used offline.
  • I would say release it on iOS (since they already use Bing) but NOT on Android as they aren't releasing the official YouTube app on windows phone, OR release them not on either of these platforms. If Microsoft wants people to adopt windows phone then it should keep Cortana for WP only. If you want people using Windows 8 AND an iPhone or Android device to get to know Cortana and to make them feel the full Cortana experience then release it on Windows 8 so they can switch their mobiles to WP or else they will never do so.
  • +1
  • What about us? How do we know Cortana is the best if we don't get Siri and GNow on WP? It has to be both ways for it to make any sense
  • I actually agree with you. I have used Google now extensively and would still pick Cortana's functionality over it. But then again, if MSFT's cortana can move to other platforms and perform exceptionally well, by integrating user's experiences across their multiple devices, then the platform (WP & WIN8) in general will regain that cool techy'ness that draws people to an OS. Imagine if Cortana on ur iPhone pops up to tell you that gamer XXX whom you raced against on your Xbox one is in the same café with you..
  • I had an iPhone previously and Siri was so flaky I turned it off. A real shame but it added no value and was just a frustration. Now I have the frustration of not having Cortana because I don't live in the US, but I can see that being a real asset rather than the gimmick it is in the iPhone. Android I can't comment on having never had such a phone.
  • Region change trick can give you Cortana right now
  • I disagree, everyone seems impressed with Cortana and it is a USP for WP. Bringing it to other platforms is stupid, the only reason would to get people to use it, like it and hope they switch. But if they can already use it they wont switch, just keep it in house, put it on Windows and Xbox, enough people use those devices to get a feel for it and that will help with adoption to WP.
  • Dan, why shouldn't Microsoft overplay Cortana. That's what Apple and Google do with just about everything new they come up with. Apple overplayed Siri. I know many iPhone owners and I barley ever see any of them use Siri, Google now even less. I have coworkers that didn't even know there was a Google now, and these are Galaxy owners. Cortana is unique in its own right. What make her unique is her affiliations to Halo. She is a well know character for the past 14 years. Cortana is iconic. The fact that we get the chance to converse with her is very unique. She sounds natural at best, she gets to know you, she is more than just a personal assistant and she has a well known name. So tell me again why Microsoft shouldn't overplay Cortana? In my opinion, Microsoft should keep her where she belongs, part of the Windows ecosystem and no where else. Microsoft needs to push harder and stop trying to connect non Windows users. I understand smartglass, but there needs to be only on Windows apps, services and products. Google was blunt about YouTube on Windows phone. Apple never shares its apps or programs. Microsoft needs to do the same. You want Cortana, get a Windows Phone.
  • Goto this site and cast your votes http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/sugg...
  • good initiative, I agree with you for now. Let Cortana grow on W8 devices first, going cross platform is always possible at a later stage
    regards
    toraji
  • I don't know if someone has asked this (sorry I couldn't read all 800+ comments) but, will Google and Apple even allow cortana, since it competes directly with siri/G.Now?
  • Good point. I don't think it will even be allowed on other OSs just because of the intrusive nature of these voice assistants. The programs need Access to nearly everything on your phone, emails and all
  • I'm actually shocked and surprised by all of this. I read some of these comments first before I had a chance to watch the video and by the vibe of the commenters, it is a fairly negative reaction. After watching the video, which I entered into with a bias due to those comments, I find myself actually considering the idea. He stated it very well. Here is our priority. Windows first. If Cortana is MY Digital assistant,I want her to help me with every facet of my life. I just happen to own all things windows so its not really gonna affect me, but he's right. For those people who have other devices, how does she know about what you do on those devices of she's not on those devices to watch? I don't have an answer to that. Cortana is not just a digital phone assistant, but she is going to be MY digital assistant ( or my moms who owns an iPhone) if that means expanding Cortana to other OS's if they want a real digital assistant, then I'm leaning towards that. Perhaps the resolution to this is Cortana is free with a Microsoft OS, i.e. Windows phone, windows and Xbox ... But subscription based for other OS's. That might quell the masses. Either way, Microsoft, keep should what your doing. I love the ecosystem. I love the monthly os updates to the Xbox one and to windows phone 8.1 and i hope it continues even after at&t releases their official update to the 920.
  • It will take time for microsoft to make Cortana release to their OSes first, then it will come to other platforms.
  • Daniel,   On seekingalpha.com a contributor placed an article about this issue a few hours ago, you might find it interesting: http://seekingalpha.com/article/2268873-should-microsoft-cortana-be-a-part-of-apple-and-android-ecosystem?uprof=45 regards t    
  • It is true that Cortana on WP has small market share now.  But not when it comes to W8 and Xbox one.  It will become a dominant voice personal assistance instantly.  It would definitely help to sell WP and W8 devices.  Providing Cortana to the competitor machines is a suicidal move which will hurt entire Windows ecosystem short term and long term.  It is a 'Surrender it All' move.  MS won't get any financial gains by providing Cortana to the competitor OS devices.  It is a feature and not a service.  Cortana is potentially a critical game changer for WP which is so far behind on apps.  Uinique features like Cortana and PureView are so important to attract phone buyers.  Now competitors are starting to catch up on camera tech and Cortana becomes even more important to keep WP going.  Strangely, MS now is talking about surrendering that to competitors before they release Cortana on WP.  It is crazy.  If MS is so concerned about fragmentation, they should then port Cortana to evey devices on earth including Playstations, firefox, Blackberries and even the Nokia feature phones.  MS should first make the Cortana work properly on WP and make it available to all languages.  Otherwise, it could hurt themselves bad by loosing the WP base.  WP is in its infancy stage.  It is fragile and weak.  The app gap is so huge that it will probably never to catch up the competitors.  We hard core of WP supporters will eventually to real