Seriously: Could you even imagine Windows 9 without Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana?
In what has become a steady drip of leaks from German sites which obviously obtained an early build of Windows 9, the latest report says that Cortana will be a feature of Windows 9. WinFuture found the resource files for Cortana, who apparently will appear as an app, rather than part and parcel of the operating system.
Really, this should come as no surprise. Windows 9 already appears to be bringing together the best parts of Windows Phone: a notifications center, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense, plus PC-centric tweaks like virtual desktops and the ability to eliminate the Start page entirely in favor of a Start menu.
Neowin, which claims to have seen the Cortana app in action, describes it as being simply a windowed app, with the familiar circle inside it. Users can either type a question inside of it, or ask it verbally. So far, we don't know whether it will actually replace the Search function within Windows 9--although on Windows Phone, it essentially has.
Of course, adding a connected Cortana assistant really assumes that the PC itself will be constantly connected--again, not too much of a stretch. One of the small but important features of the next-generation "Skylake" reference designs that Intel will ship to hardware makers in the first quarter of 2014 will be integrated LTE WWAN connections. That, together with features like Wi-Fi Sense, will allow users to share trusted hotspots between devices, including the PC.
With Google Now becoming more closely tied to the Chrome browser and Chrome OS, it makes sense for Microsoft's digital assistant to migrate to the PC as well. Only Apple's Siri appears to be tied exclusively to mobile devices at the moment, and with a patent filing that Apple has published, even that appears to be nearing an end. Fast-forward to next year, and personal assistants could be a staple of all three major computing platforms.