Amazon Echo Alexa is an awesome smart ambient device, “entity”. It's not the first smart “entity” device people have interacted with. Siri was one of the first commonplace smart entities available but only on an iPhone. IBM Watson, indirectly was an "entity" through TV and demonstrations earlier as well but... was not available to anyone directly. Bogus. Microsoft added Cortana as their smart “entity” but only inside Windows, meaning it’s hidden in the WEEDS.
Apple wised up and finally released their first ambient device version of Siri. Apple placed Siri in a jacked-up super speaker that is expensive as hell, as most of their products are, but at least available.
Where the hell is Microsoft?
I know they have Cortana inside Windows and ‘other’ potential alliance company devices (speakers), but they really need to have it in their own branded product. An ambient product, a physical "entity". It will not be easy, as it’s a competitive market and Amazon is ruthless and will be difficult to defeat. However, Microsoft still needs to get its act together and get a device out.
As co-founder and CTO of InstallShield, I worked many times with Microsoft’s the development/operating systems group. Microsoft was very Windows development focused. They replaced IBM in the 1990’s and became the god of the computing world. They were the leader. This ultra focus on Windows while ignoring the outside world was, however, almost their undoing. Open-source software in the form of Linux, various databases, and other tools showed up and made Windows and Microsoft significantly less relevant. Microsoft continued their road to non-relevance when the compute world got MUCH MUCH bigger with the BlackBerry/iPod/iPhone/Android devices. Microsoft fumbled around either ignoring these new areas or embracing them with garbage too late.
Microsoft almost did the same thing with their cloud solutions. Amazon and Google got a big lead on them in plain view. However, Microsoft changed CEO’s and the new dude, Nadella, understood their past mistakes. Nadella really embraced the cloud and open source community and has been doing very well. I'm a big Amazon AWS fanboy and love using it. But I can TOTALLY APPRECIATE given my history with Microsoft what they've done to be competitive in the cloud services. We had 300 people at InstallShield and found it hard as an organization to change focus when needed. I can’t imagine a company the size of Microsoft its challenges. It’s impressive and great for users of the cloud services environment from the added competition.
However, the new world of ambient devices and ubiquitous assistance in various forms is now being missed by Microsoft. Cortana on Windows is not the same!!! It needs a physical presence as a device, an "entity" to itself. People forget that Cortana exists just like they forget Siri exists and instead use Alexa if it’s nearby. The physical device has an ‘essence’ or entity-ness that people identify within their minds. People spatially relate to it physically. Neurological people's grid cells are activated with It.
Additionally, if Microsoft wants to be a big player in artificial intelligence for developers, as they have been in research for years, they need to get in front of people physically so that they're known for that in everyone's eyes. Microsoft has always been big in research, even way back, with their various CTO’s. So much has been ‘talked’ about from them, but it seems like they always miss the boat, at least publicly having their research do anything.
Microsoft needs to get a Cortana device out NOW, and it should be THEIR branded device.