Microsoft should keep Cortana Windows Phone only

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 13, 2014

Last year, there was a significant amount of chatter about Apple gearing up to make some iOS-based apps cross-platform. Specifically, bringing those apps to Android. CEO Tim Cook, during an interview at D11, said that it wasn't a "religious issue at Apple" that kept them from bringing their apps to Android, but that it just didn't make sense for them. Moreover, that it probably wouldn't make sense anytime soon. And considering that after that conversation the talk has all but completely died off, we can probably guess the chances of seeing it happen at all.

Apple's still the only major company that deals with software and apps that hasn't brought their own creations, made specifically (at first) for their own mobile platform, to the competitor's playground. BlackBerry held out for quite some time, but it wasn't a surprise at all when they finally brought BlackBerry Messenger to iOS and Android. And Microsoft? Well, it started out with just a simple game with Xbox Live Achievements tied in (something you could only get on Windows Phone-based handsets), but then it evolved to also include their own music streaming service, Xbox Music. (There are still rumors that Xbox Video will make an appearance some day, too.)

Google's made it their business to make sure that anything they launch does so for the major players in the mobile market. The company isn't afraid to launch their own apps for competing platforms, simply because it means that more people use their services, which is what they need to happen. Google needs people to use their stuff, so getting it out there -- even though Android has plenty of people using it -- so as many people can use it just makes sense. Updates tend to happen faster for the Android-based versions of those same apps, but that's not really a surprise is it?

I love the idea of cross-platform apps and services. I switch mobile operating systems a lot, so something like that would make me a happy camper. But for the people out there that don't switch often, it probably doesn't make that much difference one way or another. I could understand why someone might not like that a cool feature, like Google Now, is available for iOS, too, though.

Ever since Microsoft unveiled Cortana along with Windows Phone 8.1, I've seen some back-and-forth about Microsoft's potential for bringing the feature over to other platforms. It may be a difficult task, but considering the public-facing backbone of the feature, Bing and Outlook, is available for both Android and iOS, it may not be impossible. Cortana shares more commonality with Apple's Siri than Google's Google Now, and that could very well extend to a single mobile OS mentality.

But should it?

Part of me wants to say yes, because I think it would be cool to have Cortana on other platforms. I want to switch to Windows Phone, and I'm still waiting for the right time to do so, so until that happens I'd still like to use the awesome feature that is Cortana. In the short time that I've used the app in the preview for Windows Phone 8.1, I loved every second of it (when it finally started to work). It's a great feature, and iOS and/or Android users would definitely benefit from it -- if they use Microsoft services, that is.

Then again, I can't say that Microsoft should bring it over to other platforms at all. Microsoft's mobile OS has a lot going for it, but it's still a growing platform, and if they have reasons for people to use it, they should make sure that they keep it in their walled garden so people have to come to them to do so. Smartphones features can sell a phone just as well as the hardware, and Cortana is definitely a feature that should sell phones (as soon as more phones launch). If Microsoft released Cortana for iOS and Android, well, that's just a reason to pick up an iOS- or Android-based device.

What do you think, though? Should Microsoft bring Cortana over to other platforms, or should they continue to push it as a Windows Phone-only selling feature? Let me know!