Windows 10's "Redstone" update promises a smarter, Office-savvy Cortana

Cortana could pop up in your Word document with helpful suggestions.

cortana primary idge

Windows 10's next major update, code-named "Redstone," promises a smarter Cortana that can work within Office applications.

According to a report from The VergeCortana will become a contextual tool that appears within documents. She will facilitate transitioning tasks across the various smartphone platforms. Microsoft will also beef up the Notifications center, the site reports. 

Microsoft launched Windows 10 this past summer (and released Windows 10 Mobile recently as well) and continues to beef up the operating system. The Redstone update will reportedly take place next year. 

If the Verge is correct, the continued enhancements to Cortana appear to be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Cortana, for example, provides contextual information when you highlight a word or phrase in Microsoft Edge. It’s not clear how far Microsoft plans to go—although you have to imagine Microsoft has broad ambitions here—but the Cortana improvements could be as minimal as supplying that same sort of context in a Word or PowerPoint document. So far, that context is lacking from Microsoft Office. 

Bing has also already launched a contextual search feature that tries to pull out the most interesting topics within a webpage. The Verge implies this will be more fully baked in a subsequent update to Windows 10 Mobile.

Why this matters: Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant is one of Windows 10’s signature achievements, along with universal apps. Richness is a critical aspect of how Microsoft competes with Google Now and Apple’s Siri—the more sophisticated the digital assistant, the more useful it is. It seems likely that Microsoft will continue to embed Cortana deeply into its core apps—Mail, Calendar, Maps, Edge, and others—with a notable gap on third-party apps like Facebook that it doesn’t directly control.

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