Cortana is a personal assistant built into your computer.

Your First Robot Friend, Cortana

Say hello to Cortana, your new robot friend.

Now, don’t get too excited or your panties in a bunch, Cortana won’t replace your best friend Freddy. Cortana is the new personal assistant operating system that Microsoft has developed with Toshiba in order to give a user full control of his/her computer. Cortana is fully responsive and keeps track of all of your personal information, such as appointments set in your calendar, e-mails that you need to keep track of, your browsing preferences, and more. Cortana will be there at the start-up of your computer and will be your loyal secretary in commanding your computer. Rest those tired little working fingers and instead- this may sound strange as it is new- talk to your computer.

Now, while speaking to a technological gadget may seem like a weird thing, it’s already been done. Siri and ‘OK Google’ have accompanied iPhones and Androids respectively for the past year and a half or so. These gave phones the capability of listening to your requests and trying their best to search their database (connected to your phone and its applications) and the online database (search engines, websites, etc.) to relay information to you.

Seemingly, it would be as simple as asking a question and receiving a direct answer. Unfortunately, Siri started off with a lot of problems, including the general response: “That’s not what I asked you, Siri.” Sometimes, it’s also just too much to waste time dealing with Siri or OK google, when you can just type in a few words. However, Cortana is the first computer operating system that’s similar to these, except it is fluently functional- as long as you know what to ask it.

Cortana is great at organizing your calendar, keeping track of your e-mails, opening applications, finding documents on your computer, and conducting Google searches. So, as long as you don’t expect it to actually be a person, Cortana works like a great assistant in retrieving information already posted on your computer, or opening applications and doing that for you (in a secretary-like matter). “Pencil John from McCann in at 11:30 a.m. and Megan from Plumbing at 2:30 p.m.”

The problem with assistants such as Siri were that people thought they possessed the answer to any question- which Apple basically advertised it as. One must approach Cortana with caution: it doesn’t know everything. Siri’s whole premise was built around this fact, but really it only searched Google for its answers. Sometimes, aside from when Siri couldn’t understand you well (telling you that you had a speech impediment), your search would come up empty or with poor results. You’d be better off searching Google as you normally would.

When approaching Cortana, knowing its strengths and its weaknesses is vital- and there certainly are weaknesses. However, the ideal of this situation, the larger picture, is the huge deal here. Computers are becoming more alive than ever. With additions like Cortana and Microsoft ‘Hello”, Microsoft is making strides toward making the term “personal computer” quite literal.