Microsoft's putting a lot of effort into Cortana, the company's personal assistant that was originally available on Windows Phone but that is now debuting across a wider variety of platforms, so Redmond thinks the future is all about this continuously evolving technology.
Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella is the main supporter of Cortana, and at the O'Reilly Next:Economy summit, the man who replaced Steve Ballmer at the helm of the software giant last year explained how he sees personal assistants improving in the next few years.
“To me, AI is going to happen,” Nadella said in his keynote.
Nadella explains that Cortana and the other personal assistants that are being developed by tech companies will soon replace web browsers in our favorite devices, such as PCs, laptops, and tablets.
“‘Hey Cortana’ is in my vocabulary. Having that become more pervasive is my pursuit,” Nadella is quoted as saying by BI.
But the traditional web browser won't completely go away, only its UI will. Basically, personal assistants like Cortana can take care of web searching and accessing information for you, so why the need for an interface that you have to interact with when you actually have “someone” doing all the work for you?
Cortana is currently available on all devices running Windows 10, and it can perform a wide variety of tasks, all with voice input. The personal assistant continues to evolve, learning not only to do new things but also to speak new languages, so in addition to English, it can also be used in French, Spanish, German, and others.
At the same time, Microsoft is also working to bring Cortana on non-Windows devices, and the personal assistant is currently available in beta on Android and iOS. Not the same functionality is available here, but Microsoft's clearly attempting to challenge Google Now and Siri on their own playgrounds and show non-Windows customers the advantages of full integration with its personal assistant.
Nadella says it'll be absolutely normal to walk on the street and talk to your personal assistant, and no matter if we agree with this or not, it will happen, he says. For the moment, not everyone seems to be very keen to start using a personal assistant, at least not with so many privacy-invading features that are must-have for them to work. But given the aggressive marketing push that everyone's making for the personal assistant, don't be too surprised if Cortana becomes your BFF sometime in the next couple of years.