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Microsoft’s Cortana: A personal assistant who doesn’t stalk you

Windows Phone Cortana Details Leak

Microsoft wants its soon-to-be-released Cortana to help you… but only as much as you want it to. The Verge’s Tom Warren has a nice scoop that details how Microsoft plans to make Cortana the privacy-friendly personal assistant that will specifically ask you what type of information that you want to share before storing it in its virtual notebook.

“Central to Microsoft’s vision for Cortana is a Notebook feature that will allow Windows Phone users to control exactly what information is shared with the digital assistant,” Warren writes. “Notebook will allow the Cortana digital assistant to access information such as location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information. We’re told it’s designed as a privacy feature to ensure Cortana doesn’t freely access information without a level of user control. While Cortana will learn things about users, it won’t store them in the Notebook without asking you, and any information that’s stored can be edited or deleted.”

Microsoft’s decision to heavily emphasize privacy features with Cortana isn’t too surprising since it’s been setting itself up as a foil to Google, which has repeatedly come under fire for not respecting user privacy.

Warren says that Microsoft’s biggest challenge will be making sure that Cortana’s voice commands work at least as well as Siri’s at launch and that they don’t require a rigid pattern of commands as the Xbox One’s Kinect sensor does at the moment. From there Microsoft will try to integrate Cortana into both Windows-based PCs and the Xbox One where it will serve as an all-purpose voice assistant for all Microsoft devices.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.