Microsoft has been hinting for a while that it has a digital assistant of its own in development. The software, which CEO Steve Ballmer described as a “service-enabled shell” in an internal memo earlier this summer, would respond to voice commands and sync up across your Windows Phone, Windows desktop and Xbox platforms, ZDNet reports. And oh yeah, it looks like the service may be named after Cortana, the holographic AI assistant from Halo.
Cortana first leaked in June, when a Lumia 920 running an early version of Windows Phone 8.1 escaped into the wild, revealing a test-version of the service listed as zCortana. With the rumored “Blue” update expected in early 2014 we may finally see Microsoft’s long-rumored response to Apple’s Siri and Google Now. The company has been hinting at the service since as far back as 2011, but decided to hold off until it came up with something “more revolutionary than evolutionary,” Bing senior director Stefan Weitz told CNET earlier this summer.
The Verge has also gotten its hands on a handful of old Cortana screenshots, giving us a taste of what the new service can do. For now, Microsoft’s digital assistant appears restricted to simple tasks like weather, calendar events and notifications. Hopefully, Cortana has seen some big improvements since then. At the very least, we’re hoping its responses are recorded by Halo voice actress Jen Taylor.