What’s Cortana for Window Phone? Microsoft’s mashup of Siri and Google Now

If you haven’t heard of Cortana yet, you probably will soon. Besides being a helpful computer interface in the Microsoft(s msft) Halo video-game franchise, Cortana is the reported codename for personal assistant software expected in the next version of Windows Phone.

cortana settings

The software will be a mix of Google Now(s goog) and Apple’s(s aapl) Siri if sources to The Verge are correct. The site shared some screenshots and details on what to expect when Cortana — or whatever Microsoft decides to call it — debuts in a Windows Phone update. I’d expect the software to either debut or at least be introduced and demonstrated at Microsoft’s Build developer event next month.

The Verge says Cortana will replace Bing search on Windows Phone and it will save information it learns in a Notebook. The software will also scan your email to learn about you, which will help it provide contextual information. This is similar to Google Now, which does the same, in order to surface data such as package tracking, upcoming events, travel details and such. And just like with Siri, Cortana can be trained to call you whatever you wish, making for more personal conversations.

ipad air google now

I’m curious what the response will be to Cortana reading email to provide more detailed services. It appears to be optional so users can disable it, but will there be a privacy backlash towards Microsoft just as there often is with Google?