A personal assistant should not invoke fear

Microsoft has announced its new Windows Phone virtual personal assistant, Cortana. The new beta product is meant to provide Apple Siri-like functionality to the Windows Phone and integrates with various phone functionality including apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

Windows Phone has released a ‘critically-unacclaimed’ and decidedly “creepy” video to debut and presumably hype the release of Cortana. The uninspiring 81 second video spirals through various walks of life before Cortana introduces herself. One YouTube comment reads, “Way to make it creepy Microsoft!!! Jesus Christ it’s like the trailer for a horror movie.”

In an interestingly stubborn move, Microsoft has decided that Cortana will “fully replace” the search function and button on Windows Phone. In other words, “if you do a search, you’re going to do that with Cortana — and Cortana will decide where to route your search or request, to Bing, to Yelp, to launch an app or query. Suggestions also appear, and some of them are even personalized to you.” This type of bold move generally requires a successful product or brand that commands a significant market share. The Windows Phone is neither.

Cortana is a desperate attempt for Windows Phone to catch-up to the iOS and Android platforms and remain somewhat relevant. I’m afraid it is too little, too late, but if Microsoft wants to be anything more than a software company, it is going to have to step up its game. And fast.

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