Microsoft's Virtual Assistant, Cortana, to rival Apple's Siri

Apple devices have Siri, and Google has Google Now. Both are artificial intelligences designed to act as personal assistants. She can make appointments for you, set alarms or reminders, and she can answer questions like which restaurants are nearby. Siri works, but she's not the best. Microsoft has made sure of that.

New Microsoft Virtual Assistant Cortana

Meet Cortana, Microsoft's new virtual assistant. She's about to launch in the next few months, and she's meant to put Siri to shame. Microsoft has designed her to get smarter the more she is used. She can learn where you work based on location data, and will even ask questions to get to know you, like what your favorite sports teams are. 

How does Cortana get smarter? She better learns exactly what you are asking, and expecting, based on conversations she has with you. She was given a personality so that it feels more like talking to another person as opposed to talking to a phone. Larry Heck, a researcher who contributed to Cortana, had this to say:

 “It might make a mistake, but two or three turns of the conversation later we find what a person really meant. That gets data coming back to us that we can feed back into the machine learning.”

Cortana is also able to stand out from competitor's by answering follow-up questions. While you can ask Siri about nearby restaurants, only Cortana can answer follow-up questions like how late they are open or how long it would take you to get there. Microsoft will also be able to gauge when you are misunderstood by paying attention to how often you are rephrasing or repeating questions and how often you are hitting the back button.

According to Technology Review, Larry Heck is using over 300,000 computers to process web data through the Bing search engine so that Cortana can automatically receive information when responding.

Cortana is currently in the beta stage and is available to the Microsoft 8.1 operating system. It will be made available to Windows phone, Windows and Xbox One.

What do you guys think? Does Microsoft have the chance to create the best virtual assistant? Does this make you want to use Windows? Let us know!

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