Microsoft is doubling down on its Siri competitor, Cortana, first by boosting its intelligence via project “Einstein” and then with plans to release it on Apple and Android devices, according to Reuters. The move is yet another signal of CEO Satya Nadella’s aggressive strategy to get Microsoft products on as many devices as possible.
The Einstein project aims to get Cortana into the predictive service game in which it can anticipate user requests, says Reuters. Apple’s Siri reactively responds to user inquiries, while Google’s unnamed voice-command mobile app offers some prediction via information cards. Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, told Reuters that reading and understanding email will be crucial to the Einstein-upgraded Cortana’s usefulness. For example, creating an artificial intelligence that can read an earlier email about a plane ticket, then remind a user of the flight, track location via GPS, and monitor traffic conditions ahead would stitch together tidbits of a user’s daily life in a way that would set Cortana ahead of the competition.
Shortly after Satya Nadella was made CEO in February 2014, Microsoft abruptly announced that its industry-standard Office suite would be opened up to the iPad. Prevailing wisdom was to hoard Office to boost sales of Windows products and tablets, but Nadella’s been advancing his bullish vision to make Microsoft products ubiquitous across devices, opening Office up to the cloud and boosting Excel usability by releasing a keyboard for Android tablets.
Cortana has been on Windows phones for a year, but Microsoft is hoping to release the Einstein-charged upgraded version for desktops in Fall 2015 for Windows 10. Down the line Cortana would be released as a standalone app for iOS and Android devices.