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Cortana is coming to Windows 10

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Cortana, Microsoft's voice-powered digital assistant, will be baked into Windows 10, Microsoft announced today at an event to debut the upcoming operating system's features.

Windows users invoke her by saying, "Hey, Cortana," as Microsoft's Joe Belfiore demonstrated onstage. Cortana's PC incarnation will speak multiple languages.

Cortana has her own user interface in the upcoming operating system, which Belfiore consistently referred to as a "natural" interface. She understands natural language questions, like "Cortana, will I need a raincoat tomorrow?" and will tell you the forecast.

Belfiore emphasized the "personal" part of "personal assistant," and said that she's designed to learn more about you. Using your Windows 10 "notebook," you can see what Cortana knows about you, including tracking stocks, sports news and weather. Users will be able  to add and remove their interests.

"Having Cortana on your PC is like having another member of the family sitting around and helping you get things done," Belfiore said.

cortana windows 10

Her search capabilities span your hard drive, One Drive and the web. She can autofill and predict text as you type, as demonstrated by typing app names and having her predict what you're looking for. You can tell Cortana to show you photos from December or play music, and she will.

Cortana will be available to Windows Insiders "over the next several months," Belfiore said.

Cortana arrived first last year on Microsoft mobile devices with the Windows Phone 8.1 update. Named for the Halo franchise's faithful AI companion and powered by Microsoft's Bing search technologies, she can assist users by interacting with their contacts, calendar, music, messages, notes, reminders and more. Jen Taylor, who voices Cortana in the Halo games, is also the voice of the Siri-like digital assistant.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 10, the direct successor to Windows 8, last September. Changes already announced include a resizable Start menu and an amalgamated desktop that combines classic Windows and the tile-focused Windows 8 designs. Windows 10 is scheduled for a mid-2015 release. Late last year, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that it was "time to talk about gaming" at the event.

For more on today's announcements, be sure to browse Polygon's StoryStream.