Microsoft just released Cortana for iOS and Android this week, but it's planning much bigger features for its future Windows integration. Cortana first arrived on Windows 10 earlier this year, and now Microsoft is planning and building major updates, codenamed Redstone, to the operating system that will make Cortana a lot more powerful. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that the company is experimenting with having Cortana float around Windows 10.
A floating Cortana
This floating mechanism would allow Cortana to appear on top of documents, contextually, and provide information and assistance. We're told it's more of a powerful search tool, than an annoying animated character like Clippy. If Microsoft pushes ahead with its Cortana plans then the digital assistant will be able to control even more Windows features, like the ability to mute all incoming notifications quickly.
Microsoft is also considering further integrating its Office 365 services directly into Cortana so they're available straight within Windows 10. For businesses this could mean Windows 10 can serve as a hub for projects, with the ability for Cortana to understand who's working on a document and surface useful information.
Cortana won't be the only area of focus for Microsoft's Redstone work. We understand that Microsoft wants the Windows 10 notification center (known as Action Center) to be a lot more functional than it is today. Future versions will likely allow apps to integrate widget-like functionality.
On the phone side, Microsoft is currently developing an on-tap service for Cortana. Similar to Google Now's feature, Cortana will appear contextually to enable quick access to information or additional search queries. Microsoft has already been testing this feature with the Bing snapshots on tap app for Android.
Cortana on tap for Windows 10 Mobile
Microsoft's Cortana ambitions for Redstone also include the idea of resuming activities and data across multiple devices and platforms. Cortana is now available on iOS and Android, and Microsoft has enabled a feature on the Android app that lets you reply to missed calls with a text message from a Windows 10 PC. Microsoft calls this "task continuation," and it's a core part of the thinking behind how Cortana will progress in the next major updates to Windows 10.
Microsoft is close to previewing some of its Windows 10 updates, including extensions support for its Edge browser. Most of Microsoft's Redstone work is in the early stages or still being planned, so expect to hear a lot more about the future of Windows 10 early next year.