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Main Reason Windows 10 Will Be a Winner: Cortana

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Microsoft wants the Windows 10 experience to scale uniformly from smartphones to desktops, calling the incoming OS "one platform" and "one product family."

That effort had already given rise to the rumor that Siri-assassin Cortana would be introduced to desktops, and a new video purports to back that claim by depicting an early version of the digital assistant in action.

Cortana is still trying to find her way around Windows 10's desktop iteration, but she has already displayed on the desktop some of the prowess that has made her popular on mobile devices.

On the desktop, Cortana's human-like voice defaults to its robot drone on some occasions and she won't yet identify herself when asked to do so, according to WinBeta's time with the early build of the digital assistant on a desktop build of Windows 10. The user interface also isn't adorned with all of its features and a shiny coat of paint.

Cortana isn't connected to Windows Live, which hindered tasks like plotting routes for trips, converting currency and other processes that require access to her external database. But the digital assistant can complete tasks such as establishing reminders, relaying weather reports, setting up Skpe calls, jotting down notes, adding calendar events and reviewing upcoming appointments.

Cortana stumbled a bit in the WinBeta video, confusing a request to set up a reminder for when the user "leaves work" with "leaves luck." The digital assistant is still in beta in the U.S. and in the UK, as the user spoke with a U.K. English accent.

While Cortana works on her English skills, the digital assistant has also been learning new languages. The latest update for the alpha version of Cortana on mobile devices will upgrade the digital assistant's languages to include French, German, Italian and Spanish -- in English-speaking countries and China, Cortana is already in her beta-testing phase.

The public is likely to get a more representative look at Cortana in January 2015, which is when Microsoft is expected to show off the consumer side of Windows 10. The Redmond, Wash., firm is rumored to be preparing its Windows 10 presentation for late January, after it makes an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 6-Jan. 9 in Las Vegas.

The incoming Continuum feature of the new operating system was originally expected to steal the show as it highlighted Windows 10's ability to switch between desktop and tablet-style interfaces on the fly. But rising star Cortana appears poised for significant time in the limelight.

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