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Microsoft reveals Windows Phone 8.1 with Siri-like 'Cortana' personal assistant

post #1 of 113
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Software behemoth Microsoft on Wednesday showed off the latest update to its Windows Phone mobile operating system, refining several areas and officially unveiling Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri.




Cortana is the update's tentpole feature, bringing Windows Phone users the ability to schedule meetings, send text messages, and search the web using their voice. The company says Cortana will learn from users, using heuristics in an effort to return more relevant information.

Microsoft has also provided an API for third-party applications to interface with the Bing-powered assistant, a feature still missing from Siri and Google's Google Now offering. There is no word on exactly what level of integration developers can expect, however.

Rumors that Microsoft was set to bring Cortana, named for a character from the blockbuster Halo franchise, to Windows Phone first surfaced in January. The company is believed to have plans to bring Cortana to the Xbox and Windows platforms next year.

Windows Phone 8.1 also includes a new Action Center that combines the functions of iOS's Control Center and Notification Center into a single feature. Action Center displays situational information, like battery percentage and notifications, and provides customizable shortcut buttons.

Other new features include the ability to set custom backgrounds and a "high density" option for adding more tiles to the home screen. Microsoft has also added a new keyboard input method, which the company calls "shape writing," allowing users to swipe across the keys to type, similar to third-party keyboards available for Google's Android.

Windows Phone 8.1 will begin rolling out to consumers "in the next few months."
post #2 of 113
The copy machine is alive and well in Redmond
post #3 of 113

What an ugly name. They must be thinking that their target customer base are all Halo fans.

post #4 of 113
GROUNDBREAKING!!!
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post #5 of 113

This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.

post #6 of 113
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Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.
And people still say Cook should be fired because he let Scott Forstall go. It's because of Forstall that Apple is playing catch up with things like Siri.
post #7 of 113

Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?

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post #8 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


And people still say Cook should be fired because he let Scott Forstall go. It's because of Forstall that Apple is playing catch up with things like Siri.


I can't imagine anyone would say that. I completely agree that Forstall was really holding Apple back.

 

Just seeing how much Apple was able to change between iOS 6 and iOS 7, gives me great hope that the next iOS 8 will bring Apple back to leaving its competitors far behind.

post #9 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason98 View Post

What an ugly name. They must be thinking that their target customer base are all Halo fans.

I'm not a Halo player so I only now the reference loosely but the name sounds nice to me, seems to make sense as I seem to recall in the game Cortana was a form of AI, and since MS had bought Bungie (which upset a lot of Mac users back in the day) it debuted on the Xbox where it was a breakaway success it's a nice nod. It's not an original name, but neither is Siri which I found odd that Apple kept since the tend to rebrand the tech they purchase.

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Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post

Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?


PS: Be careful. Every word and image on that page could be false because it's Wikipedia.

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post #10 of 113
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Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post
 

Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?

 

Well, Halo-land, so yes.

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post #11 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post
 

Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?


Halo

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortana

post #12 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post
 

This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.

WOW, you made the assessment based on a press release, don't you think you should at least wait until you actually used it. How many times does companies like MS have slideware that people buy into only to find out it does not work as claimed which it better than anything else out there.

 

Remember this, engineer who make these product think they are god because they can create things, so by definition it the best thing ever.


Edited by Maestro64 - 4/2/14 at 11:52am
post #13 of 113

The important part is that of today's announcements is that Windows 8.1 will receive a patch that will add back the start menu.

post #14 of 113

AI, you missed the biggest news of mobile for the last few years.

 

MS has made Windows Phone FREE for all devices under 9" in size. Huge shot across Google's bow.

post #15 of 113
Don't really care much for Cortana, but I am rather intrigued by the single screen idea they have:
MDmlZoL.jpg
post #16 of 113

Zzzzz . . . 

 

MS finally moved its ass to tack on a Siri clone.

post #17 of 113
Having had a brief play with Windows phones I can safely assure you that if Apple disappeared and I was left with only a choice between Windows Phone and Android Windows Phone would win hands down.

It is quick, so quick it leaves Android for dust. It's actually quite nice to use, far more than Android. It also works correctly with Exchange which is great for businesses.

I'll still go iOS over Windows Phone but Windows Phone is a great improvement over previous Windows mobile OSs
post #18 of 113
Still less creepy than Google.

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post #19 of 113
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Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

AI, you missed the biggest news of mobile for the last few years.

MS has made Windows Phone FREE for all devices under 9" in size. Huge shot across Google's bow.

I think they'll be happy to grab a little share from Apple too by mimicking Google's successful free software distribution efforts. It's a shot across every other mobile manufacturers bow.
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post #20 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


I can't imagine anyone would say that. I completely agree that Forstall was really holding Apple back.

Just seeing how much Apple was able to change between iOS 6 and iOS 7, gives me great hope that the next iOS 8 will bring Apple back to leaving its competitors far behind.
Seriously I think the stagnation in iOS can be laid at the feet of Forstall AND Jobs. I know the Mark Gurman's of the world claim that the only thing new in iOS 7 was the so-called flat design (meaning all the other stuff was already in the pipeline). One I don't buy it, two, if that really was the case how is it that we only got this stuff after Forstall was out of the picture? How come we didn't get something like control center (which I use every day) in iOS 5 or 6? I have high hopes that things will greatly improve now that Federighi is running the show.
post #21 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


I think they'll be happy to grab a little share from Apple too by mimicking Google's successful free software distribution efforts. It's a shot across every other mobile manufacturers bow.

 

They might get some from Apple, but it's mainly against Android as they make the only other popular OS that can be used by anyone.

 

The HUGE difference (which will be a big selling point) is MS has an indemnification policy (something Google lacks, and MS loves to make fun of). With all the lawsuits going on this is a big advantage for Windows Phone over Android.

post #22 of 113
And it comes with rich Cortana leather.
post #23 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

WOW, you made the assessment buy on a press release, don't you think you should at least wait until you actually used it. How many times does companies like MS have slideware that people buy into only to find out it does not work as claimed which it better than anything else out there.

 

Remember this, engineer who make these product thing they are god because they can create things, so by definition it the best thing ever.


That's fair enough. We absolutely need to see it in real life before commenting. Especially with MS, who are kings of vaporware.

 

However, the idea, and demoed aspects of Cortana are far wider than Siri.

post #24 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post
 

AI, you missed the biggest news of mobile for the last few years.

 

MS has made Windows Phone FREE for all devices under 9" in size. Huge shot across Google's bow.

Microsoft is finally realizing that Android is the REAL threat to their business. Apple isn't.

 

Apple will continue making premium devices for people who are willing to pay for quality, just like in the desktop world. It will never really threaten MS, and in fact, usually benefits them by giving them ideas for next updates to their OS. Android, OTOH, is trying to be the next Windows.

post #25 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezhik View Post

Don't really care much for Cortana, but I am rather intrigued by the single screen idea they have:
MDmlZoL.jpg

you realize why Apple did not do this, the over head is too great to support all the form factors and all the various processors types and such, yeah it would be nice and this is MS attempt to say you do not have to give anything up if you on your phone or computer in your office. It all thing to all people which will be it will such for all people on all things.

post #26 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post
 

Microsoft is finally realizing that Android is the REAL threat to their business. Apple isn't.

 

Apple will continue making premium devices for people who are willing to pay for quality, just like in the desktop world. It will never really threaten MS, and in fact, usually benefits them by giving them ideas for next updates to their OS. Android, OTOH, is trying to be the next Windows.

Is it weird that I'm rooting for Microsoft to overtake Android?

What has this world come to :???:  :wow:

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post #27 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

you realize why Apple did not do this, the over head is too great to support all the form factors and all the various processors types and such, yeah it would be nice and this is MS attempt to say you do not have to give anything up if you on your phone or computer in your office. It all thing to all people which will be it will such for all people on all things.

Actually Apple does do this, just on a smaller scale - iPhone and iPad use the same app platform. MS is just taking it further and extending it to desktops and TVs.  Processors shouldn't be an issue, as Windows RT can already handle it pretty well.

post #28 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post
 

Is it weird that I'm rooting for Microsoft to overtake Android?

What has this world come to :???:  :wow:


I gained a lot of respect for MS after Windows Phone. I still think iOS is better, however, unlike Android, which basically just copied everything about iOS, MS genuinely gave us a new OS, with a completely different interface, and a different way of interacting with the phone.

 

Definitely agreed that I'm rooting for MS to beat Android.

post #29 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

They might get some from Apple, but it's mainly against Android as they make the only other popular OS that can be used by anyone.

The HUGE difference (which will be a big selling point) is MS has an indemnification policy (something Google lacks, and MS loves to make fun of). With all the lawsuits going on this is a big advantage for Windows Phone over Android.

I vaguely recall something about Microsoft and indemnification but can't remember any of the details. Do you perhaps have a link to it? No biggie if you don't.
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post #30 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.
Bet u have msft stocks
post #31 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


I vaguely recall something about Microsoft and indemnification but can't remember any of the details. Do you perhaps have a link to it? No biggie if you don't.


I think it's basically, if any software patents are violated, the owners of the patents have to sue MS, and not the hardware vendors.

post #32 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


I gained a lot of respect for MS after Windows Phone. I still think iOS is better, however, unlike Android, which basically just copied everything about iOS, MS genuinely gave us a new OS, with a completely different interface, and a different way of interacting with the phone.

Definitely agreed that I'm rooting for MS to beat Android.

How is the interaction different? Honest question as I've never used it. Looks as tho they offer similar voice controls and search as Google, gestures, multi-touch etc. same as iOS, Android Nokia X and others.
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post #33 of 113
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Originally Posted by water cooler View Post


Bet u have msft stocks


Lol. No.

 

AAPL actually. Been riding it since it dropped to the 80s in 2009.

 

Some of my SW development is on .Net though, so I watched the Build Keynote today, and for the first time, I was actually impressed with what MS is doing. However, as another poster warned, there is a huge gap between a demo and a product, so it is still wait and see.

post #34 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


I think it's basically, if any software patents are violated, the owners of the patents have to sue MS, and not the hardware vendors.

Have any of the Apple lawsuits claimed Android itself as the offender? If a Windows function isn't being claimed to infringe but the vendor uses Windows as the OS does Microsoft still come to their defense? I don't know.
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post #35 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

The copy machine is alive and well in Redmond

Apple bought Siri so not like it was an original thought from the start

post #36 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


How is the interaction different? Honest question as I've never used it. Looks as tho they offer similar voice controls and search as Google, gestures, multi-touch etc. same as iOS, Android Nokia X and others.


I am talking about touch controls only. iOS (and consequently Android) use tapping as the primary touch gesture to move between panels (the exception being the home screens). WP7, OTOH, uses swiping as the primary gesture to move between panels. So, for example, on iOS, to switch from your Facebook news feed, to your Friends list, you will probably tap an icon. On WP, you will probably swipe left to right, or right to left.

 

I am not saying it is better. However, it was at least an attempt to do something other than straight up copying iOS.

post #37 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Have any of the Apple lawsuits claimed Android itself as the offender? If a Windows function isn't being claimed to infringe but the vendor uses Windows as the OS does Microsoft still come to their defense? I don't know.


If it's the hardware, I think the vendor is responsible.

 

Some of the lawsuits have claimed the OS as the offender (the scrolling rubber banding effect, for example), but Apple is suing Samsung, instead of Google, because Google does not indemnify Samsung (although, in this case it may be because Samsung copied the feature, and it wasn't present in stock Android? Not exactly sure. I don't really follow the patents stuff much).

post #38 of 113
"The copy machine is alive and well in Redmond"

When a product has been out for years and versions of that same product have been introduced by other companies and you can implement your own version of that product with different code/technology, a different look/feel/way to use it, and with more features then it is not copying.

Otherwise, Apple's I-Pod "copied" the other MP3 players on the market (some of which were actually commercially successful), I-Pad did the same with other tablets, and of course Apple's PC line copied IBM (especially if you include the pre-Apple Lisa machines that were not GUI-driven, and especially the pre-Apple III machines that had no mouse, icons or desktop).

That being said, Cortana is not going to be enough to get people to buy a Windows Phone. It is difficult to say what would at this point that Android and Apple do not already have covered. Microsoft either needs to join the Chinese manufacturers primarily targeting developing markets, or focus their efforts on developing and selling software for phones that everyone else makes.
post #39 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by water cooler View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.
Bet u have msft stocks

And if he does, so frickin' what?

 

If you have a retirement portfolio with a pension fund, you also probably own MSFT.

post #40 of 113
Siri was probably derived from Iris reversed (I assume the name of developer's girlfriend, or mom), therefore Cortana comes from a lady called Anatroc.
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