Windows 9 To Include Cortana Assistant

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Evidence mounts that Microsoft will port Cortana from Windows Phone 8.1 to its next PC operating system

Microsoft has big plans for its digital assistant Cortana, after new reports pointed to its migration from Windows Phone 8.1 to the forthcoming Windows 9 operating system (codenamed Threshold).

Threshold is expected to arrive in April 2015, and will form part of Microsoft’s plan for a unified ecosystem, spanning its flagship OS on desktops and laptops, as well as mobile platforms (Windows Phone) and gaming systems (Xbox One).

Desktop Cortana

The news that Cortana will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 9 operating system came after a German technology Website WinFuture, published leaked screenshots of Windows 9 (Technical Preview Build 9834).

The leaked screenshots reveal multiple references to Cortana, and show a sample entry in the preview software’s reminder application.

microsoft-logo-NewThe images also reveal that under the Windows Apps folder (under Program Files) of the technical preview is a Microsoft Cortana folder containing several subfolders and dynamic link library (DLL) files.

Cortana is of course Microsoft’s voice-enabled assistant, named after the AI character featured in the company’s popular Halo game series. Is it designed to take on the likes of Apple’s Siri and Google Now. It first appeared on the Windows Phone 8.1 software update for US customers, and will shortly be rolled elsewhere in the world.

The digital assistant is powered by Bing’s search technology, and it has impressed many reviewers with its ability to provide genuinely useful alerts, guidance and reminders.

Evolving Interfaces

The arrival of Cortana on Microsoft’s flagship operating system signals Microsoft’s intention to build a common platform spanning the desktop, mobile and the cloud.

Windows 8 of course included for the first time the ability for touchscreen input, and the arrival of Cortana, means that Redmond is also looking to add voice to the mix.

And that is not the only Windows Phone elements that Microsoft seems to be appropriating for its desktop operating system. The images also reveal that WiFi Sense (a program to make it easier to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks) and Storage Sense (which monnitors what files your store on your drive to help avoid capacity overload) could also make it into Windows 9.

The possible arrival of Cortana on Windows 9 will add another differentator compared with Apple’s Mac OS, as there is no indication of whether Siri will make the jump across iOS to the Apple computer operating system.

At the moment, Cortana is strictly a voice- and text-driven affair. But Microsoft has previously indicated that the technology will extend far beyond its current form.

Indeed, Microsoft has hinted that the company is planning to someday give Cortana the gift of sight. “The goal is to support all types of human interaction – whether it’s speech, text, or gestures – across domains of information and function and make it as easy as a natural conversation,” Microsoft Research distinguished engineer Larry Heck has previously stated.

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