Microsoft today brought its Cortana virtual assistant to France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, albeit in alpha form. Yet the really exciting news comes from unreleased Windows 10 builds: Cortana running on the desktop.
The two Microsoft-enthusiast sites explain what Cortana can do so far, with a big warning that the feature is naturally not yet ready for prime time. For those wondering, some believe the company will unveil Cortana at its Windows 10 consumer preview event next month, but there’s no consensus on when exactly the virtual assistant will become available to testers.
So, what can Cortana do right now? Just like on Windows Phone, you can add calendar items and reminders so Cortana can keep track of your events, letting you know what you have scheduled for a given day.
If you want to call someone using Cortana, she will fire up Skype if you have their contact information in your address book. This is unlike on Windows Phone, where you can call people directly, not just from your smartphone, since you’re, well, using a phone.
You can also search maps and get traffic information, play and pause music, launch apps, and check the weather. It’s worth noting that Cortana doesn’t have her usual Windows Phone personality on Windows 10 desktop, meaning she doesn’t answer questions like “Who are you?” Like other Cortana features, that part is still unfinished.
Cortana does speak, like you can hear in the video above, and it appears the voice actress is still Jen Taylor, who began her work with Cortana in the Halo games (pictured above). Much like on the Windows Phone version, however, she still sometimes defaults to a robotic voice, depending on the context.
It’s important to emphasize the desktop part in today’s leak: We know Windows 10 is coming to PCs, smartphones, tablets, and many other devices, though the only name we have is “Windows 10.” Since Cortana first debuted on Windows Phone, we know what to expect on smartphones, but the desktop is a whole new ballgame.
Again, it’s important to stress that Cortana is far from finished. Even when Microsoft shows her off next year, she won’t be ready to be your virtual assistant on the desktop for months. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see Microsoft working to bring Cortana to the PC: Apple certainly hasn’t indicated plans to do the same with Siri, yet.