Cortana to Get the Soul of Clippy? Microsoft Planning Major Updates for its Digital Assistant


Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana will reportedly become a contextual tool appearing within Office documents and floating around in Windows 10.

windows 10 contextual cortana

Windows 10 Redstone update to bring smarter Cortana:

Microsoft released Cortana for iOS and Android yesterday, but that's not the end of the limits Microsoft is trying to reach with its digital assistant. According to a report from The Verge, Microsoft is planning much bigger features for Cortana. Citing "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans," the report suggests that Microsoft is experimenting to have Cortana float around the operating system.

This floating mechanism would allow Cortana to appear on top of documents, contextually, and provide information and assistance. We're told it's more of a powerful search tool, than an annoying animated character like Clippy. If Microsoft pushes ahead with its Cortana plans then the digital assistant will be able to control even more Windows features, like the ability to mute all incoming notifications quickly.

This means that users will get an assistant that will facilitate with tasks throughout the desktop and mobile operating systems. These major updates to Cortana will be part of the planned Redstone updates that will be released to Windows 10 early 2016. However, these updates to Cortana will not be the only focus of Redstone. Along with browser extensions for Edge, Microsoft is also planning to improve the Notifications Center, the report suggests.

We understand that Microsoft wants the Windows 10 notification center (known as Action Center) to be a lot more functional than it is today. Future versions will likely allow apps to integrate widget-like functionality.

The functionality suggested by the report already exists to some extent in Microsoft's Edge browser as it offers contextual information when you highlight a word or a phrase. Microsoft intends to bake the same features and several improvements in other core products like Microsoft Office and then perhaps its Mail, Maps, Calendar, and other apps too. Providing this contextual support throughout the ecosystem will help Microsoft compete against Siri and Google Now with a more intelligent digital assistant.

While this seems too early to know just how intelligent, helpful or annoying Cortana will be, insiders can hope to test these features soon before they are released to the public in 2016.