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Virtual assistant coming to Windows Phones

gadgets Updated: Sep 14, 2013 10:55 IST

Codenamed Cortana -- a name that should be more than familiar with anyone who's played Halo on the Xbox -- she is Microsoft's answer to Google Now and Siri and could be the central link between all future Microsoft products and their owners.

Once consumers get past the stigma that it's a Microsoft, rather than an Apple or Google product, Windows Phone 8 is a very respectable operating system and one with some great features and, thanks to Nokia, some impressive handsets.

However, it's missing two things. The first, apps, is one that even Microsoft doesn't have the power to change. Companies like Instagram and Google won't take a chance on developing an app for the platform until there is proof that Windows Phone 8 is being embraced by enough consumers to make the work and cost associated worth their while.

However the other omission, a virtual assistant -- like Apple's Siri and with it, contextually aware features like Google Now -- could be coming in the next software update.

According to ZDNet, Windows Phone users are about to make friends with Cortana who, like Apple's Siri, will respond to voice commands and can perform internet searches and provide answers to direct questions and who will become core, not just to Microsoft's future smartphones, but also its Xbox and tablet platforms. It will provide the central connectivity between a device's features, such as accessing local information, web searches, Bluetooth use and calendar information and the device's owner.

The Verge has managed to get screen shots of how the assistant will look. Let's hope it's just a prototype.