Microsoft reveals its master plan for winning the VA race against Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Year of VA
Going by the CES last week, it seems that Amazon’s Echo is bound to rule the roost, as far as virtual assistant go. However, Microsoft has explained its strategy for controlling and winning the future market for voice assistants and apps.
Cortana in the Center
Much of the strategy is centered on Cortana, the personal assistant for Windows 10. In December, the company had announced some new tools it was offering programmers for building the virtual assistant, Cortana, into its own applications and hardware. Harman Kardon had announced the launch of a smart speaker powered by Cortana for taking on the all-powerful Amazon Echo.
CES 2017 Announcement
At the recently held CES 2017, Microsoft has announced a few new services to be offered to auto manufacturers. Nissan is among the first of its customers using these new services. This means that the upcoming Nissan could well have Cortana the virtual assistant on its dashboard.
The Future Battle
According to Ryan Gavin, the General Manager of Microsoft, he claimed at the CES 2017 event that the entire ecosystem of Microsoft would contribute in the battle for the best voice assistant. It would naturally include Cortana, but also other components of Microsoft’s ecosystem, namely the Microsoft Office, the Azure cloud, LinkedIn, which the company has bought for $26.2 billion and the dashboards of cars as well. According to Ryan Gavin, the dream behind Cortana is that everyone must have a virtual assistant.
Microsoft plans on taking on the adversaries in this virtual assistant battle, namely, Amazon and Google among others. It plans to focus on assisting consumers in becoming more productive, this being the major focus of the company.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Amazon is focusing on using Alexa for driving commerce, whereas Google is focusing its Google Assistant on Search, as these are the strengths of the two companies respectively. However, Microsoft’s Cortana will stand out from the rest, as it offers productivity tools. According to Gavin, Cortana will not merely be a ‘prosumer’. Cortana will have the ability for controlling smart home devices and she will also continue to make predictions for NFL or the Oscars. Voice commands are an essential part of a virtual assistant, according to Microsoft. To this end, the company has invested in Xiaoice, Tay and Zo, a few popular chat boxes.
These bots will assist Microsoft in improving Cortana, so that she can have more natural conversations and serve better in the role of an assistant. Though Microsoft aims at making conversations with Cortana more natural, this is not the end. The aim is for Cortana not only to know about the user’s life and smart devices but also his or her work. This is an area where Microsoft can score. Outlook and Exchange make it easier for Cortana to view the emails and the calendars of users. 365 cloud service of Microsoft Office allows Cortana to search a file and offer the relevant document when asked for. LinkedIn will also offer more relevant information on work places of the user.