As Microsoft gets ready to release its virtual assistant Cortana in new markets (it’s due in the UK the beginning of next month) the US firm is trying to get people excited about the software the only way it knows how – taking pot shots at Apple.
In one of the first adverts for the updated Windows Phone 8.1 mobile OS, Microsoft pits the iPhone’s Siri against Cortana with expected consequences.
Cortana is seen processing people and location-based reminders (so the unseen user knows to wish his wife happy anniversary when she calls and pick up roses when he passes a flower store) while Siri sadly admits “Oh no, I cannot do that”.
Adding insult to injury, Microsoft chose to showcase Cortana on the Lumia 635, a 4G-capable handset that can be picked up for less than £150 off-contract.
But is Cortana better than Siri? In terms of features Microsoft’s assistant certainly has the edge. In addition to the commands showcased in the advert, Cortana can also set interests (such as a favourite sports team) and offer daily summaries of relevant news – neither of which Siri can do.
In side-by-side comparisons though it seems to be a bit of a tie - a three-way tie when you include Android’s Google Now function. TechRadar said they were “pleasantly surprised” by Cortana’s capability while Cnet said that Microsoft’s vitual assistant “held its own” although it needed to “strengthen a few spots”.