Microsoft is porting its personal-assistant software Cortana to Android and iOS to go head to head against Apple's Siri and Google Now.
Cortana will be available as a standalone app available for download to phones and tablets running the Google and Apple operating systems, Reuters reports.
Cortana will debut on Windows 10 devices first, this autumn. iOS users already have their AI-driven digital assistant, Siri, while Android fans use OK Google to tell them what to do and where to go.
It would seem Microsoft has finally committed to breaking the monogamy of its assistant’s relationship with Windows.
Nine months ago, Microsoft called the idea of Cortana on the rival mobile platforms “interesting” but hadn’t decided on a course of action.
Marcus Ash, a Windows Phone group program manager, said that Microsoft wanted Cortana to scale “internationally and across devices.”
“The idea that she will be pervasive is important to us,” Ash said.
The notion of leaving their precious Cortana free to mix with non-Windows platforms has upset the Microsoft fans. Indeed, Ash’s comments infuriated them, as Cortana had not yet been released to them first.
Microsoft was accused of making a communications blunder and mishandling the situation.
The spasm revealed a deeper worry: that Microsoft is letting go of a potentially useful application that could have helped float the sinking Windows Phone.
Windows Phone market share is falling while the big battle remains the play-off between Android and iOS.
Microsoft has been left trying to conflate the message of Windows Phone and Windows OS and merge the technologies, to produce an overall perception of victory.
If Reuters is correct, though, and Cortana is coming to iOS and Android, it would seem Microsoft has finally prioritised market share of the app over its platform.
Microsoft has, for now, decided what’s important is data and cloud over mobile platforms: that is, harvesting lots of data from mobile devices running Cortana.
Whether that changes and whether Microsoft pulls Cortana off iOS and Android, should any Cortana uptake result in a surge of Windows Phone sales, remains to be seen. ®