windows phone 81 cortana main screen nokia lumia icon april 2014Image: Michael Homnick

Cortana’s debut on Windows Phone 8.1 nears, and Windows is still in play

Microsoft has apparently begun planning to bring its Cortana digital assistant, which is currently in beta, to Windows Phone, according to a key executive in its development.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Marcus Ash, the group program manager for Cortana, downplayed any possibility that the company would bringing Cortana to either iOS or Android. Unsurprisingly, the Windows Phone platform will be the platform for the best Cortana experience, Ash wrote.

Microsoft debuted Cortana as a beta product in Windows Phone 8.1 as the answer to Apple's Siri and Google Now. Built upon Microsoft's Bing search technology, Cortana has the power to answer factual questions, serve as a digital assistant, and even get a bit sassy in response to user comments.

In our shootout of digital assistants, Cortana came in last, but we were also willing to make some allowance for future improvement.  

Ash, in an apparently unsolicited "tweetstorm" over the weekend, made it clear that Windows Phone was the first priority for Cortana.  

Ash quickly followed that up by noting that the "showcase experience" will always be on Windows Phone.

The idea, Ash wrote, was to make the Cortana experience the best for those customers who owned "all" Windows devices, making Cortana apparently the glue that ties those platforms together. 

which is better siri or cortana

In February, Microsoft issued updates to several Windows Phone apps, with the key addition that the Windows Phone apps now share data with their Windows counterparts.That means, apparently, that though Ash was lukewarm about committing to Cortana on Windows, it's almost inevitable that it will happen. 

 Ash returned, however, to his central theme: that future plans are future plans. Although the preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 looked terrific, it still hasn't been officially released. The earliest Microsoft has hinted that an official release could arrive is June 24.

And after that, Microsoft hasn't finished. Like its rivals, Microsoft intends to keep on iterating. "Words are nice, only actions matter. Next 4 months of Cortana on WindowsPhone will show that we are dead serious about #1 - #3," Ash concluded.

Is that code to let us know that Cortana won't arrive on Windows for at least four months? That would put that timeframe into October, plus, there's talk of Windows 9 coming in 2015. If nothing else, we can conclude three things: Yes, Cortana appears to be headed for Windows, but no, it won't be for a while. And Cortana on Android or the iPhone? Forget it.

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