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"Microsoft Cortana" redirects here. For the fictional character in the Halo video games, see Cortana (Halo). For other uses of "Cortana", see Cortana.

Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant created by Microsoft for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone 8.1 (where it now supersedes Bing Mobile),[4]Microsoft Band, Xbox One,[5][6]iOS and Android.[7] Cortana was demonstrated for the first time at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference (April 2–4, 2014) in San Francisco.[1] It has been launched as a key ingredient of Microsoft's planned "makeover" of the future operating systems for Windows Phone and Windows.[4] It is named after Cortana,[8] a synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft's Halo video game franchise originating in Bungie folklore,[9] with Jen Taylor, the character's voice actress, returning to voice the personal assistant's US-specific version.[10]

Cortana is currently available in English, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese language editions, depending on the software platform and region in which it is used (see the section on regions and languages for details).[11] Cortana mainly competes against assistants such as Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now.


  • 1 History
    • 1.1 Development
    • 1.2 Expansion to other platforms
  • 2 Cortana in other services
  • 3 Functionality
    • 3.1 Notebook
    • 3.2 Reminders
    • 3.3 Design
    • 3.4 Miscellaneous
  • 4 Privacy concerns
  • 5 Regions and languages
  • 6 Technology
  • 7 Updating
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links



The development of Cortana started in 2009 in the Microsoft Speech products team with general manager Zig Serafin and Chief Scientist Larry Heck. Heck and Serafin established the vision, mission, and long-range plan for Microsoft's digital-personal-assistant and they built a team with the expertise to create the initial prototypes for Cortana. To develop the Cortana digital assistant, the team interviewed human personal assistants. These interviews inspired a number of unique features in Cortana, including the assistant's "notebook" feature. Originally Cortana was only meant to be a codename, but a petition on Windows Phone's UserVoice site that proved to be popular made the codename official.[13]

Expansion to other platforms[edit]

Cortana on Android New Experimental Interface

In January 2015, Microsoft announced the availability of Cortana for Windows 10 desktops and mobile devices as part of merging Windows Phone into the operating system at large.

On May 26, 2015, Microsoft announced that Cortana would also be available on other mobile platforms. An Android release was set for July 2015, but an Android APK file containing Cortana was leaked ahead of its release. It was officially released, along with an iOS version, in December 2015.[14]

During E3 2015, Microsoft announced that Cortana would come to the Xbox One as part of a universally designed Windows 10 update for the console.[15]

Cortana in other services[edit]

Cortana integrated in Microsoft Edge

Microsoft has integrated Cortana into numerous products such as Microsoft Edge,[16] the browser bundled with Windows 10. Microsoft's Cortana assistant is deeply integrated into its Edge browser. Cortana can find opening-hours when on restaurant sites, show retail coupons for websites, or show weather information in the address bar. At the Worldwide Partners Conference 2015 Microsoft demonstrated Cortana integration with upcoming products such as GigJam.[17] Conversely, Microsoft announced in late April 2016 that it would block anything other than Bing and Edge from being used to complete Cortana searches, again raising questions of anticompetitive behavior by the company.[18]

Microsoft's "Windows in the car" concept includes Cortana. The concept makes it possible for drivers to make restaurant reservations and see places before they go there.[19]

At Microsoft Build 2016, Microsoft announced plans to integrate Cortana into Skype (Microsoft's instant messaging service) as a bot to allow users to order food, book trips, transcribe video messages and make calendar appointments through Cortana and in addition to other bots.[20] As of 2016, Cortana can underline certain words and phrases in Skype conversations that relate to contacts and corporations.[21] A writer from Engadget has criticised the Cortana integration in Skype for only responding to very specific keywords, feeling as if she was "chatting with a search engine" due to the impersonal way the bots replied to certain words such as "Hello" the Bing Music bot brought up Adele's song of that name.[22]

Microsoft also announced at Microsoft Build 2016 that Cortana would be able to cloud-synchronise notifications between Windows 10 Mobile's and Windows 10's Action Center,[23][24] as well as notifications from Android devices.[25][26]


Cortana can set reminders, recognize natural voice without the requirement for keyboard input, and answer questions using information from the Bing search engine (e.g., current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, biographies).[27][28][29] If Firefox is the default browser, Cortana uses the Firefox default search engine instead of Bing.[30] Searches will only be made with Microsoft Bing search engine and all links will open with Microsoft Edge.[31] Windows 8.1's universal Bing SmartSearch features are incorporated into Cortana, which replaces the previous Bing Search app which was activated when a user presses the "Search" button on their device.[32] Cortana includes a music recognition service.[33] Cortana can simulate rolling dice and flipping a coin.[34] 'Cortana's "Concert Watch" monitors Bing searches to determine which bands or musicians the user is interested in.[35] It integrates with the Microsoft Band watch band for Windows Phone devices if connected via Bluetooth,[36][37] it can make reminders and phone notifications.[38]

Since the Lumia Denim mobile phone series, launched in October 2014, active listening was added to Cortana, enabling it to be invoked with the phrase: "Hey Cortana"; it can then be controlled as usual.[39] Some devices from the United Kingdom by O2 have received the Lumia Denim update without the feature but this was later clarified as a bug and Microsoft had since fixed it.[40]

Cortana integrates with services such as Foursquare to provide restaurant and local attraction recommendations and LIFX to control smart light bulbs.[41][42][43]


Cortana stores personal information such as interests, location data, reminders, and contacts in the "Notebook". It can draw upon and add to this data to learn a user's specific patterns and behaviors. Users can view and specify what information is collected to allow some control over privacy, said to be "a level of control that goes beyond comparable assistants".[44] Users can delete information from the "Notebook".[45]


Cortana has a built in system of reminders which for example can be associated with a specific contact; it will then remind the user when in communication with that contact, possibly at a specific time or when the phone is in a specific location.[46] Originally these reminders were specific to the device Cortana was installed on, but since Windows 10 Microsoft synchronises reminders across devices.[47]


Most versions of Cortana take the form of two nested, animated circles[48] which are animated to indicate activities such as searching or talking.


Cortana has a "do-not-disturb" mode in which users can specify "quiet hours", as was available for Windows Phone 8.1 users.[49] Users can change the settings so that Cortana calls users by their names or nicknames.[45] It also has a library of "Easter Eggs", pre-determined remarks.[50][51]

When asked for a prediction, Cortana correctly predicted the winners of the first 14 matches of the football 2014 FIFA World Cup knockout stage, including the semi-finals, before it incorrectly picked Brazil over the Netherlands in the third place play-off match. This streak topped Paul the Octopus who correctly predicted all 7 of Germany's 2010 FIFA World Cup matches as well as the Final.[52][53][54][55] Cortana can forecast results in various other sports such as the NBA, the NFL,[56] the Super Bowl,[57] the ICC Cricket world cup[58] and various European Football Leagues. Cortana can solve mathematical equations, convert units of measurement, and determine the exchange rates between currencies including Bitcoin.[59]

As of April 2015 Cortana was disabled for users aged under 13 years.[60]

Privacy concerns[edit]

Cortana indexes and stores user information. It can be disabled; this will cause Windows search to search the Web as well as the local computer, but this can be turned off. Turning Cortana off does not in itself delete user data stored on Microsoft's servers, but it can be deleted by user action.[61] Microsoft has further been criticised for requests to Bing's website for a file called "threshold.appcache" which contains Cortana's information through searches made through the Start Menu even when Cortana is disabled on Windows 10.[62][63]

Regions and languages[edit]

The Chinese version of Cortana, Xiao Na

The UK version of Cortana speaks with a British accent and uses British idioms, while the Chinese version, known as Xioa Na, speaks Mandarin Chinese and has an icon featuring a face and two eyes, which is not used in other regions.[64]

As of 2016 the English version of Cortana on Windows devices is available to all users in the United States (US English), Canada (French/English), Australia, India, and the United Kingdom (UK English). Other language versions of Cortana are available in China (Simplified Chinese), Japan (Japanese), France (French), Germany (German), Italy (Italian), Brazil (Portuguese), Mexico, and Spain (Spanish). Cortana for Android and iOS is also available in the same languages.[65]

The United Kingdom (English) localised version of Cortana is voiced by Ginnie Watson, an Anglo-French actress, singer/songwriter and voice-over artist.[66]

This table identifies the localized version of Cortana currently available. Except where indicated, this applies to both Windows Mobile and Windows 10 versions of the assistant.

Language[67]Region[67]Variant Status[67]Platforms
English United States United States American English Available Windows, Android, IOS
United Kingdom United Kingdom[68] British English Available Windows
Canada Canada[69] Canadian English Available Windows
Australia Australia Australian English Available Windows
India India Indian English Available[70] Windows
German Germany Germany[71] Standard German Available Windows
Italian Italy Italy Standard Italian Available[72] Windows
Spanish Spain Spain[73] Castilian Spanish Available Windows
Mexico Mexico Mexican Spanish Available Windows
French France France French of France Available Windows
Canada Canada Canadian French Available Windows
Chinese China China Mandarin Chinese Available Windows, Android, IOS
Portuguese Brazil Brazil Brazilian Portuguese Available Windows
Japanese Japan Japan Standard Japanese Available Windows,[69]IOS[74]


The natural language processing capabilities of Cortana are derived from Tellme Networks (bought by Microsoft in 2007) and are coupled with a Semantic search database called Satori.[75]


Cortana updates are delivered independently of those to the main Windows Phone OS,[76] allowing Microsoft to provide new features at a faster pace.[77] Not all Cortana-related features can be updated in this manner as some features such as "Hey Cortana" require the Windows Phone update service and the Qualcomm Snapdragon SensorCore Technology.[78]

See also[edit]

  • Windows Speech Recognition
  • Microsoft Voice Command


  1. ^ a b Lau, Chris (March 18, 2014). "Why Cortana Assistant Can Help Microsoft in the Smartphone Market". The Street
  2. ^ Risley, James (30 March 2016). "Microsoft introduces Cortana-powered chatbot for Skype, opening up framework to developers.". Geek Wire
  3. ^ Callaham, John (December 9, 2015). "Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant officially launches on Android and iPhone". Windows Central. Retrieved December 9, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Foley, Mary Jo (March 4, 2014). "Microsoft's 'Cortana' alternative to Siri makes a video debut". ZDNet
  5. ^ Martin, Julia (October 30, 2014). "Microsoft brings Cortana to wrists with 9 Microsoft Band". Inferse
  6. ^ Griffiths, Sarah (October 30, 2014). "Microsoft joins the world of wearables: New Band monitors your fitness levels and sleep quality for 9". Daily Mail
  7. ^ Whitney, Lance (May 26, 2015). "Microsoft's Cortana crosses over to iOS and Android. Due out this year for Android and iOS, the voice assistant will bring some competition to Apple's Siri and the Google Now app.". CNet
  8. ^ Julianne Pepitone. "Why Microsoft Named Its Siri Rival 'Cortana' After a 'Halo' Character". NBC News
  9. ^ "Marathon's Story... Facts and puzzling things about... Cortana".
  10. ^ Blair, Nancy (April 3, 2014). "Who is Cortana? It's Halo's Jen Taylor". USA Today
  11. ^ "Cortana's regions and languages". Microsoft. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  12. ^ Warren, Tom (April 2, 2014). "The story of Cortana, Microsoft's Siri killer.". The Verge
  13. ^ Sawers, Paul (May 26, 2015). "Microsoft announces Phone Companion app for Windows 10 and teases Cortana for Android and iOS.". VentureBeat
  14. ^ Warren, Tom (June 15, 2015). "Xbox One dashboard update includes a huge new design and Cortana.". The Verge
  15. ^ Hachman, Mark (May 5, 2015). "Microsoft's Edge web browser roadmap includes more Cortana scenarios, extensions.". PC World
  16. ^ Rama, Gladys (July 13, 2015). "Microsoft Debuts 'Project GigJam' at WPC 2015.". PC Magazine
  17. ^ "Microsoft locks down Cortana: Blocks integration with other browsers, search engines". 
  18. ^ Warren, Tom (September 16, 2015). "Microsoft experimenting with Cortana in your car". The Verge. It's clear that Microsoft's car efforts have progressed over the past year, but the company still isn't ready to launch its own Windows 10 integration. 
  19. ^ Hernandez, Pedro (31 March 2016). "Microsoft Previews a Smarter Skype With Bots, Cortana Integration.". eWeek
  20. ^ de Looper, Christian (30 March 2016). "Skype now has the smarts to book your trip, order pizza, and more with Cortana.". Yahoo! Finance
  21. ^ Lee, Nicole (30 March 2016). "Chatting with Skype bots feels like talking to a search engine.". Engadget (AOL)
  22. ^ Surur, Suril (2 April 2016). "Cortana is now 2 years old.". MSPowerUser
  23. ^ Torres, JC (1 April 2016). "Cloud-based Windows 10 Action Center will also be on Android.". SlashGear
  24. ^ Chavez, Chris (1 April 2016). "Windows 10 Anniversary Update not only mirrors Android notifications, but lets you interact with them too [VIDEO].". Phandroid
  25. ^ Amadeo, Ron (2 April 2016). "The Windows 10 Anniversary Update can mirror Android notifications. Get Android notifications on your desktop. The catch: You have to install Cortana.". Ars Technica
  26. ^ Microsoft. "My interests and Cortana". Windows Phone. Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  27. ^ Microsoft. "Remind me, Cortana". Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  28. ^ Warren, Tom (April 2, 2014). "The story of Cortana, Microsoft's Siri killer". The Verge. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  29. ^ Jared Newman (11 August 2015). "Firefox sticks it to Microsoft, redirects Cortana searches in Windows 10". Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  30. ^ "Microsoft limits the Cortana search box in Windows 10 to Bing and Edge only". 
  31. ^ Edmonds, Rich (February 11, 2014). "Developers leak Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, reveal new features". Windows Phone Central. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  32. ^ Burgess, Brian (April 19, 2014). "Use Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 to Identify Songs". GroovyPost
  33. ^ Popa, Bogdan (October 6, 2014). "New Cortana Features on Windows Phone: Flip a Coin and Roll Some Dice". Softpedia
  34. ^ Smith, Emily (October 17, 2014). "Cortana will be more like Google Now". LOAD THE GAME
  35. ^ Kniskern, Kip (October 29, 2014). "Microsoft Band: cross platform, yet Better Together with Windows Phone (and Cortana)".
  36. ^ none, Ron (October 30, 2014). "Say hello to Microsoft Band, a 9 fitness band that keeps you fit and lets you check emails and texts too". WinBeta
  37. ^ Burlacu, Alexandra (October 30, 2014). "Microsoft Band fitness tracker with Cortana debuts alongside Microsoft Health service: Here's the deal (VIDEO)". Mobile & Apps
  38. ^ Rubino, Daniel (January 12, 2015). "Hands on with 'Hey Cortana' and the Lumia 930 Denim update". Windows Central
  39. ^ Nirave, Author (February 3, 2015). "O2 Lumia 930 Denim update lands without "Hey Cortana" [Updated]". Fonearena
  40. ^ Newman, Jared (July 29, 2014). "Windows Phone's Cortana taps Foursquare to suggest nearby places of interest". PCWorld
  41. ^ Crist, Ry (15 October 2015). "The new Lifx Windows 10 app lets Cortana toggle your lights". CNET. 
  42. ^ "Cortana now taps into Foursquare to give you recommendations for lunch". Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  43. ^ Hachman, Mark (February 21, 2014). "Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant guards user privacy with 'Notebook'". PCWorld. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  44. ^ a b Warren, Tom (March 3, 2014). "This is Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Siri". The Verge. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  45. ^ Guim, Mark (26 April 2014). "How to set a person-based reminder with Cortana.". Windows Central (Mobile Nations)
  46. ^ Sams, Brad (13 February 2015). "Windows 10: Cortana now syncs reminders.". Neowin
  47. ^ Kleiman, Jacob (March 3, 2014). "Windows Phone Cortana Mobile Assistant Detailed in New Leak". TechnoBuffalo. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  48. ^ Sabri, Sam (April 15, 2014). "How to set up Quiet Hours and Inner Circles on Windows Phone 8.1". Windows Phone Central. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  49. ^ Warren, Tom (April 15, 2014). "Clippy replaces Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1 Easter egg". The Verge. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  50. ^ Kessler, Derek (April 15, 2014). "Cortana Easter Egg resurrects Clippy as your personal digital assistant". Windows Phone Central. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Cortana's unbroken streak ends with Netherlands 3:0 win over Brazil". July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  52. ^ Backaitis, Virginia (July 11, 2014). "Why Microsoft's Cortana is 14 for 14 Calling World Cup Matches". Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  53. ^ Akash KJ (July 10, 2014). "Germany Will Beat Argentina to Win FIFA World Cup 2014 Final Predicts Cortana". International Business Times. Archived from the original on July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  54. ^ Wint, Bradley (July 9, 2014). "Cortana maintains winning streak, correctly predicting 14 games in a row". Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  55. ^ Manfred, Tony (January 28, 2015). "The Microsoft Engine That Nailed The World Cup Is Predicting Every NFL Game – Here's Its Pick for the Super Bowl,". Business Insider. 
  56. ^ Curdie, Lewis (February 2, 2015). "Super Bowl winner correctly predicted by Windows Phone Cortana". Mobot. Retrieved February 3, 2015. 
  57. ^ Allison, Micheal (February 8, 2015). "Bing now predicts ICC Cricket World cup". WMPowerUser
  58. ^ Sieber, Tina (January 28, 2015). "Here's how to make the most of Cortana, the Windows 10 digital assistant". Digital Trends. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  59. ^ Nichols, Shaun (April 25, 2014). "Microsoft's naughty Cortana NOT ALLOWED NEAR CHILDREN, But she's not alone...". The Register
  60. ^ Brad Chacos (30 July 2015). "How to disable Cortana in Windows 10". Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  61. ^ Bright, Peter (13 August 2015). "Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can't stop talking to Microsoft. It's no wonder that privacy activists are up in arms.". Ars Technica UK
  62. ^ Smith, Chris (13 August 2015). "Windows 10 might be spying on you even after you tell it to stop.". Boy Genius Report
  63. ^ "Windows Phone 8.1 Update brings Cortana to new markets + new features". Blogging Windows
  64. ^ "Cortana's regions and languages". Microsoft. Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  65. ^ Doe, John (February 19, 2015). "Which sex does a computer sound like?". London Sound Survey
  66. ^ a b c "Cortana's regions and languages". Retrieved July 29, 2016. 
  67. ^ Novet, Jordan (June 25, 2014). "Cortana will land in China and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks". Venturebeat News
  68. ^ a b Duckett, Chris (13 November 2015). "Hobbled Cortana arrives in Canada, Australia, Japan, and India. As part of the latest update to Windows 10, Microsoft's digital assistant has arrived in a number of new geographies.". ZDNet
  69. ^ "Windows 10 update: Cortana now understands Indian accent". The Indian Express. November 13, 2015. 
  70. ^ Whitney, Lance (December 5, 2014). "Microsoft Cortana expands to French, Italian, German and Spanish". CNet
  71. ^ Surur, Author (February 2, 2015). "Cortana's Italian improves". WMPowerUser
  72. ^ Hernandez, Pedro (December 5, 2014). "Cortana Goes Globetrotting in European Alpha". eWeek
  73. ^ Shanahan, Dave (4 March 2016). "Cortana App for iOS now available in Japan.". WinBeta
  74. ^ Gary Marshall. "Cortana: everything you need to know about Microsoft's Siri rival". TechRadar
  75. ^ Lee, Tyler (July 21, 2014). "Cortana Will Enable Itself Automatically, No Action Required". Ubergizmo
  76. ^ Ali, Fahad (October 6, 2014). "CORTANA CAN NOW ROLL SOME DICE, FLIP A COIN". Eye on Windows
  77. ^ Tofel, Kevin C. (December 18, 2014). "Lumia Denim update arrives, bringing Cortana and better pictures". Gigaom

External links[edit]

  • Meet Cortana for Windows Phone
  • Cortana contextual awareness
  • Cortana Analytics Suite Overview

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