Cortana-like Personalization Comes to Microsoft Bing
Bing provides a window into how Cortana, Microsoft's new search and digital assistant technology, gets to know users.Currently, only developers can tinker with Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled digital assistant technology for Windows Phone 8.1. But the general public can get a sampling of the personalization features that the company has in store with a new update to Bing. Cortana, named after a major AI character in the "Halo" video game series, is Microsoft's answer to Apple Siri and Google Now. A highlight of this year's Build developer conference, the Bing-powered technology impressed attendees with its context-aware capabilities and deep personalization options. A few hiccups aside, Cortana breezed through most spoken and typed requests by keynote speaker Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone, during an on-stage presentation. Belfiore was able to search for information both online and stored on the phone and set reminders, complete with dependencies based on other actions, like a Skype call. Another key Cortana feature is machine learning, which enables the technology to surface critical information, such as an itinerary sent via email, and add it to a user's calendar, for example. Now Bing users can catch an early glimpse of what Cortana has to offer when Windows Phone 8.1 is released later this year.
"One of the things that makes Cortana so helpful is her ability to learn about your preferences and interests," said Chen Fang, Bing program manager, in a blog post. Cortana owes the ability to cater to users' lifestyles and work habits to Microsoft's search technology. "It is the Bing platform that makes this possible, earned through years of experience doing web search," he asserted.