Microsoft uses Apple's Siri to prop up Windows' new 'Cortana' virtual assistant

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In a new ad released on Monday, Microsoft highlights the apparent inadequacies of Apple's Siri virtual assistant, which is pitted unfavorably in a head-to-head feature test with "Cortana," its Windows 8.1 analog.

Titled "Happy Anniversary," the commercial is done in Microsoft's recent style of leveraging Siri to denigrate Apple products, which usually puts an iPad or iPhone up against a comparable Windows device to point out their contrasting feature sets.

For its first spotlight on the Cortana virtual assistant, Microsoft chose to focus on contextual reminders, pitting Apple's latest iPhone 5s against the low-end Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone.

In the ad, Cortana is asked to set various reminders for an upcoming wedding anniversary. For example, a man asks for a reminder to tell his wife "happy anniversary" the next time they talk. Another reminder is set to buy roses when he's near a flower shop.

After each reminder is successfully set, the camera cuts to Siri, who says, "Oh no, I cannot do that," and "I can't do that either."

Finally, when it's time for the man to leave for dinner, Cortana pulls up a traffic alert showing the best route.

"Now that is a smart phone," Siri says.

Apple's Siri is capable of creating geo-fenced reminders, but the feature is limited to current iOS restrictions of "home" and "work." Microsoft's solution can pull from third-party services to inform users when they near a particular landmark or point of interest.

A report earlier in July said Apple is putting together a team of speech recognition experts for a neural network-powered Siri, which could bring faster and more accurate voice-to-text translation, as well as enhanced system-level functionality.


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