Microsoft Secretly Testing Cortana-Enabled Work Assistant App
Microsoft is internally testing a new application called “Work Assistant,” a Cortana-enabled Office app for the Windows Phone. This app might also be one of the projects with which Bill Gates is involved rather intensely.
The Work Assistant app, which is still marked as a private internal beta, has basically been designed to help users perform various Office-related tasks on their Windows Phone.
According to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet, sources confirmed that the Work Assistant app was being developed by Microsoft’s Digital Life + Work group, which is part of the Applications and Services Group (ASG). Julie Larson-Green, Chief Experience Officer of ASG, is believed to be leading the Work Assistant project, while involvement from Bill Gates was also affirmative.
Last week, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), Gates said he was guiding Microsoft on a new “Personal Agent” project. While not divulging into excessive details, Gates said:
“One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model – the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices.”
The Work Assistant beta is 2 MB in size so far, and was last updated on December 2, 2014, according to the Windows Phone Store page about the app. It will work on WP 8.1 devices and will require user’s information like:
- Internet connection
- HD720P (720×1280)
- WVGA (480×800)
- WXGA (768×1280)
However, it is still vague as to what the Work Assistant’s link is with Microsoft’s Cortana. During Microsoft’s preview event for Windows 10 in Redmond late January, officials boasted of Cortana’s abilities to do things like fetching a PowerPoint deck from the user’s own OneDrive storage system, after the user asked (by voice) for slides of a particular meeting.
This points to Work Assistant using Cortana’s voice-search capabilities, in and out of the Office-friendly app.
Cortana is already integrated into WP 8.1 and is expected to be integrated into Windows 10 and Windows 10 mobile for Windows Phones and smaller tablets. Larson-Green also has said that Cortana will be coming to iOS and Android through some way, but didn’t specify a timeframe.