Microsoft's plan to integrate Cortana into its next iteration of its Windows desktop OS has gone from "Let's try it on for size" to "Let's pitch it to the consumer!"
Reports coming out of Windows blog Neowin say Microsoft's latest "dogfood" build of Windows 9, also known as Threshold, comes integrated with Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant first introduced for Windows Phone 8.1 earlier this year.
"While it is still in early development, Cortana's performance on the desktop is improving and looks to be targeted for inclusion of the final release," writes Brad Sams on Neowin. "Obviously at this point, it could still be cut, but the first big hurdle has been overcome."
So how does Cortana work on the desktop? The personal digital assistant will not come as a permanent fixture of the new Windows 9 but instead will come as a "simple app" where users can type in their questions on a small window on the center of the screen or give out voice commands if they have a microphone enabled. Neowin says Cortana for desktop looks pretty much like the digital assistant for mobile, with the same circular shape and similar animations, although it does not provide a full-screen experience and takes up only around 25% of the screen.
Cortana takes its name after a character equipped with artificial intelligence in Microsoft's "Halo" video game series. It is powered by Satori, Bing's knowledge repository technology named after the Japanese word for "understanding," to learn what users want to do, provide suggestions and answer questions. Microsoft is currently expanding Cortana's reach by deploying a number of alpha and beta programs all over the world. The company previously announced that it updates Cortana every two weeks, which means that by the time Cortana for Threshold is released in the spring of 2015; it will be much more robust than it is today.
Cortana is Microsoft's answer to Google Now and Apple's Siri. The Neowin report comes hot on the heels of rumors that Apple is also working on a Siri integration into its OS X platform for desktop computers after a 2012 patent for the technology surfaced on the Internet.
So far, the new Windows 9 is said to be undergoing a major overhaul from Windows 8. Leaked images and reports show Microsoft has decided to bring back the much-missed Start Menu, do away with the Charms bar and enable the use of Metro-fied apps on the desktop. Also interesting are rumors that Threshold will be available free for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users.