Microsoft Shows Off New 'Cortana' Personal Assistant

Microsoft Shows Off New 'Cortana' Personal AssistantOn Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and a slate of new features for Windows Phone.

The most notable of new features is Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-command personal assistant.

Named for a character from the hugely popular Halo video game, Cortana is powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Cortana enables users to make phone calls, send texts, dictate notes or provide reminders.

“Cortana gets to know you and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something,” Microsoft explained yesterday. “She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.”

The software giant confirms that Cortana will launch soon in the U.S. as a beta, in the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, and in other countries in 2015.

Registered developers can update their phones to Windows Phone 8.1 as part of the developer program later this month.