Via rumors and other leaks, we’ve known for a while now that Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, should appear in Windows 10. Now, a video appears to prove it.
WinBeta obtained the code to either Cortana or a leaked build with the Cortana executables built in, and gave Cortana a spin. Because the assistant isn’t actually connected to the cloud services, Cortana throws up an error message when it’s time for her to do anything truly useful. It’s also early days as far as the UI is concerned: Cortana looks a little rough in this version, but she’ll be spiffed up by the final release, we’d bet.
German sites earlier this year predicted Cortana would arrive in Windows 9 (now called Windows 10) based on executable files they discovered. It now appears those executables work, and they've revealed some of the functions that Cortana will offer.
As the video shows, Cortana can perform some basic tasks. Cortana can schedule an appointment (or at least ask for the pertinent details surrounding it), call someone via Skype, check your calendar, schedule a location-based reminder, ask for directions, and set and turn off alarms. Certain features appear to work just fine—alarms, for example, or taking a note in OneNote. Most don’t—asking for directions to Big Ben, for example, prompted Cortana to search for directions to “ThisisNotWorking”.
According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet and others, Microsoft plans a consumer preview—known as the January Technical Preview, according to Foley—in late January, where the Windows 10 version of Cortana is expected to be revealed, as well as the “Continuum” experience, where a two-in-one PC will switch between a Modern and desktop interface, depending on whether the tablet portion is docked.
Microsoft itself is remaining mum, save for a statement by chief operating officer Kevin Turner, who told a technology conference that Microsoft would reveal Windows 10’s business model in early 2015. Turner confirmed that Windows 10 will ship “by late summer and early fall” of 2015.
Why this matters: Actually, Cortana matters as much for the flow of information from the phone to the PC as she does for the other way around—how many times have you heard anyone talk to a PC via voice recognition? Still, it appears that Microsoft is setting up Cortana to be the most visible digital assistant on the PC, more so than Google Now or Apple’s Siri. That, at least might give Cortana a bit more of the limelight—and eyes on what you’re doing on your PC, too.
Here’s the video: