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Microsoft Makes the Move to Windows 10

Virtual Assistant Cortana Is the Killer Feature

Microsoft is slotted to release Windows 10 this summer— July 29th. Many people are skeptical of their ambition to create an OS that will function seamlessly across all platforms and devices, especially due to the criticism they received over Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Microsoft tried to deliver 8 and 8.1 in the same fashion, and I think it’s safe to say that they weren’t exactly successful. The OS itself was laid out very nicely, but is without a doubt optimized for touch devices; trying to navigate the tiles on a non-touch device or even trying to figure out how to shut the device down proved to be a frustrating task (even I’m guilty of not being able to find the darn button!) So what makes Windows 10 different? Read on to find out.

First, you might ask, “Where’s Windows 9? Why go from 8 to 10?” I like to think the move denotes a fresh start, just as OS X was a breath of fresh air for the Mac. Microsoft is striving to find the “right balance between familiarity and productivity,” according to Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group. Another thing worth mentioning is that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users for a year. There are plenty exciting aspects of Windows 10, but the one that might catch your eye is Cortana and her capabilities to be more or less a virtual personal assistant. That’s right—move over, Siri, you have competition!

It is fascinating to watch Cortana transform from being a character in one of the most epic, legendary video games of all time, Halo, into one of the most useful tools to grace the business world. She is multifaceted; she comes with voice recognition, can perform simple tasks, and answer questions, and that’s not all. With the capability to learn through Microsoft’s search engine Bing as well as cloud-run machine learning algorithms, Cortana can constantly improve and absorb a plethora of information, and it all benefits the end user.

I recently read an article by Joab Jackson, U.S. Correspondent, IDG News Service, where he detailed his experience in watching a demonstration of Cortana and her capabilities.

“Cortana can be used to help IT departments answer frequently-asked support questions from employees. The user asked how to project his computer’s screen in another display, and Cortana answered right away.”

This, for obvious reasons, would be helpful to countless technologically challenged people, and eliminate whatever particular process one would have to go about to find a solution to their issue. It cuts out the middle man and helps the end user maximize their time and increase their productivity.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper. Sure, it’s cool that Cortana can be of assistance when it comes to simple tasks. But what about actually contributing to analyzing data? What about directly accessing, parsing through it, and coming to some logical conclusion? Turns out she can do that, too.

An example of this would be from the Build Conference that took place in April:

“Microsoft compiled the Ignite attendee data in the PowerBI tool, an extension of Excel. From the start screen, Belfiore asked Cortana to use PowerBI to find out how many attendees had registered for the conference. It answered 20,000, the figure at the time the data was compiled. Cortana also grouped the number of attendees by country and by industry. Attendees were asked how many computers their company has. Cortana sliced the data by vertical industry and determined that, on average, defense companies have the most computers.”

Obviously, the Cortana component to Windows 10 is pretty remarkable. This is a tool that could truly alter the average day in the life of business workers. The beautiful thing is, Cortana is everything you want her to be. Simple or complex, she can handle it all. Just need to ask a quick IT question? You’ll get your answer in a snap. Need to evaluate statistics from last quarter and break them down into different categories? Cortana’s got your back. This is just one of the many mechanisms that will be deployed within the Windows 10 OS, so I would be willing to bet a few bucks that Microsoft quite possibly got it right this time. As much as I am excited for Cortana, I need to make sure I keep up the good work—with everything she has to offer, she may very well put me out of a job!

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