Microsoft set to rival Apple with ‘personal assistant’

Microsoft is working on an advanced version of its competitor to Apple’s Siri, using research from an artificial intelligence project called Einstein.

Microsoft has been running its “personal assistant” Cortana on its Windows phones for a year, and will put the new version on the desktop with the arrival of Windows 10 this autumn. Later, Cortana will be available as a standalone app, usable on phones and tablets powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, sources said.

“This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next rollout of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame”, said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research and a part of the Einstein project.

Horvitz and Microsoft declined comment on a plan to take Cortana beyond Windows. The plan to put Cortana on machines running software from Apple and Google, as well as the Einstein project, have not been reported. Cortana is the name of an artificial intelligence character in the video game series Halo.

Microsoft believes its work on speech recognition, search and machine learning will let it transform its digital assistant into the first intelligent ‘agent’ which anticipates users needs.


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