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February 10, 2014

A Little Late to the Party, Microsoft Preps Siri-Like Re-launch


To the delight of geeks and gamers everywhere, Microsoft is reportedly closer than ever to re-launching its TellMe app, the Siri-like assistant that comes with a Windows phone. But even better, according to Geek.com, the new assistant will be named “Cortana.”

To those who might otherwise be unaware (Full Disclosure: Me), Cortana is the name of the artificial intelligence that assists the Master Chief in the Xbox “Halo” series.

Hence, loyal gamers and others with a passing interest will reportedly soon be able to ask Cortana for help with information when needed. Even better, Cortana will be powered by Foursquare, the free app that lets users share and save the places they visit. With a community of some 45 million users, and more than five billion (and growing) “check-ins”, the alliance with Foursquare makes perfect sense.

As reported by TMCnet last week, “Microsoft put a hefty $15 million into Foursquare as part of a ‘strategic investment’ into the company,” TMC’s Steve Anderson said. “But additionally, Microsoft embarked on a commercial licensing arrangement that allows Microsoft to add data previously compiled by Foursquare into Microsoft products.”

The move comes as Microsoft continues to add features to its Windows Phone software, in an effort to better compete with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android software, according to Bloomberg.com. The addition of Cortana might well give the company a leg up, as “fanboyz” (and girlz) are known for their loyalty (some might say fanaticism) to Halo, and that could translate into some crossover sales.

When exactly all this will come together isn’t quite clear, but it should be sooner rather than later.

“Cortana is expected to make her debut with the arrival of the next major update to Windows Phone,” Geek.com reports. “Microsoft hasn’t confirmed yet when that will happen, but based on information from previous reports, Windows Phone 8.1 could be arriving any time now. Build 2014 kicks off on April 2nd, and that could be the perfect time to launch.”

Image courtesy Xbox

So, with Microsoft’s sheer size and power, Foursquare’s large and growing database and Cortana’s strong following, will it all translate into the boost Microsoft is hoping for? We’ll have to wait about two months to see if it’s all real, or just some fevered programmer’s fantasy match-up.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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