Microsoft Corporation missed the boat in the emergence of mobile devices and its Windows Mobile devices are a distant third behind iOS and Android devices. However, Microsoft is on the front row of the AI and machine learning revolution – its Cortana virtual assistant sets the pace that others will follow. The firm is out with an Anniversary Update that will empower Cortana with even more powers.
Cortana is a virtual assistant deployed across Surface Pro, Windows 10 devices, iOS, and Android devices. Cortana on desktop and Android is one of the few instances in which Microsoft takes the lead on innovation in the tech industry. However, Apple is not content with having Siri on iPhones and iPad alone; Siri for Mac will make its debut this fall with the release of macOS Sierra. Siri made its debut on mobile devices ahead of Cortana and Google Now but it not yet available on laptops and desktops.
Microsoft is miles ahead of Apple and Google with Cortana
Cortana has been on PCs for almost one year and Siri is just about to make its debut on laptops and Macbooks in the next couple of months. Hence, it is not surprising that Microsoft has a lead on Apple. During the fourth quarter earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella made a revelation that will gladden the heart of the firm’s fans. He says, “The Cortana search box [in the Windows 10 task bar] has over 100 million monthly active users, with 8 billion questions asked to date”.
Nadella’s revelation is the only detailed usage data on the top virtual assistants in the market right now. During WWDC 2016, Apple revealed that Siri handles about 2 billion requests each week but it didn’t give data about MAUs. In February, Alphabet said its Google voice searches increased more than 100% from last year but the firm did not give any hard data on the number of users.
Joe Osborne on techradar notes that “generally speaking, companies don’t release MAU figures unless they’re large enough to be worth mentioning… is Cortana enjoying more success than its rivals already? That’s tough to say… But, what can be said is that Microsoft is enjoying wild success with the assistant within its own ecosystem.”
Lisa Eadicicco wrote an objective piece for Time to compare and contrast Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. She concluded that “Microsoft and Apple are tailoring their virtual assistants to be useful for more than just fetching quick answers on the go. When they work smoothly, it feels like having a true personal assistant on hand to retrieve information”
Microsoft is getting back into the game
Microsoft is throwing off its image of being an ancient tech firm and it is rebirthing itself an innovative forward-thinking firm with a rich history and tradition. In July 2014, Satya Nadella revealed his “bold ambition” to build devices with a focus on productivity. The latest products from the firm have been true to this corporate focus as seen in Surface Pro, Windows 10, Universal Apps, Continuum Mode, and Cortana among others.
The firm’s plan to dominate the AI market is the hub from which it would take over the tech industry – the Surface Pro is already beating iPad sales and Cortana now seems to have a lead over Siri. The changes that Nadella has brought to the firm seem to be bearing fruits and its stock is no longer a favorite with the shorts. In the last one year the shares of Microsoft has gained 23.46% and it has gained 5.13% in the last five days as more people embrace Windows 10.