MICROSOFT IS adding further speculation about the future of its voice assistant, Cortana, after revealing that it is looking at ways to give other services deeper integration with Windows 10.
At the moment, although Alexa is supported by Windows, it is part of the quid pro quo arrangement with Amazon that has brought Cortana functionality to Echo devices. In both cases, the non-native assistant plays a fairly convincing bridesmaid to the bride.
But now, several under-the-hood hackers have reported code commits that would see a deeper integration, allowing you to pick your preferred primary partner in proverbial poigniance. It could even mean replacing Cortana in the search bar, following the recent decision to split the digital assistant's development from that of the search. This could, in turn, mean banishing Bing to the sidelines too after the option was removed in the first big Windows 10 update.
When we say "other", what we really mean is "Alexa" because you can be certain that Siri won't appear any time soon, and it's also highly unlikely that Google will be offered out of the box, though Google is not above adding its own "bridge", much as it has done with Google Drive and Microsoft Office.
Alexa is a different story, however, and given that there has never been the buzz around Cortana as a reason to use Windows 10, and Microsoft isn't pigheaded enough (sometimes) not to understand that it can keep flogging the horse, or it can find something else that does go down well with the punters.
Unlike the leading voice assistants, Microsoft didn't release a stand-alone device for Cortana, relying instead on the huge network of computers and XBoxes already in peoples' homes, a tactic that seems to have backfired rather spectacularly.
Although Cortana and Alexa have very different skillsets, they compliment each other, and it's likely that Alexa will still be able to call on Cortana for more business related queries. μ
But it keeps the juicy details firmly under wraps
And Sonny and Cher is on the radio
Gets its post-Windows 7 towel on the sun-lounger