Microsoft: We've had Siri-like technology for over a year

By on November 25, 2011, 5:00 PM

At the Techonomy conference in Tuscon, Arizona, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, dismissed Apple's new voice recognition technology as something Microsoft has had for over a year in Windows Phone 7.

In an interview with Forbes discussing user interfaces, Craig Mundie was asked about Apple's personal voice assistant, Siri. Mundie replied, "as a technological capability, you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced".  

Mundie went on to point out that Tellme, the eventual fruit of an acquisition in 2007, does what Siri does. Windows Phone 7 and even Xbox users are most likely already familiar with the product. You can ask it for directions, search the web through Bing or send texts while using natural language. In fact, Tellme does things Siri does not as of yet, such as transcribing voicemails to text. However, the Microsoft official conceded the company had a few things to learn about marketing.

Craig singled out the infatuation people have with Apple is good marketing in itself. Mundie suggested, "maybe we need to pick a feature and hammer on it harder," while explaining that Apple had little choice but to push Siri hard. His reasoning is that many people were disappointed with the iPhone 4S. The disappointment stemmed from the lack of substantial changes to separate it from the iPhone 4. As a result, Apple had to focus on the one thing that would turn eyeballs: Siri. 

Of course, voice recognition itself is actually far from new but Apple would certainly suggest that they do it better, leveraging decade-old technology from DARPA.

You can watch the short interview below where Forbes' Eric Savitz and Microsoft's Craig Mundie talk mostly about Kinect and voice activation.

User Comments: 19

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mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Rick, please update the article with this video comparison:

Guest said:

in fairness, its his job to say that they had it, or have had better. If not, he wouldn't have his job. Anyone remember Baghdad Bob? LOL

p51d007 said:

LOL...what is this....a "me too" thing?

Yeah, MS had it for a year, android has it, but none of them marketed it like Apple has.

Good or bad, first or last, Apple knows how to stir the fanboys.

Chazz said:

Mario, that guy and seemingly you, have never used microsoft's tellme. And although siri is quite better, Microsoft's TellMe is able to do everyday tasks that people require voice commands for. for a year I have been texting while driving handsfree, opening apps while my hands are busy, calling contacts, getting directions, and checking weather.

Siri is far more advanced and can do things which TellMe cannot like set appointments but to show that video as an example would be a huge mistake by techspot as it'd only highlight your ignorance of the WP platform.

BlackIrish said:

It seems like the guy in the window (intentionally or not) didn't change the WP7 phone to an Australian accent. That would quite a difference...

Guest said:

The guy in the video is not Australian but a New Zealander.

Dj23 said:

I was playing with Siri and my WP& the other day, and Siri could not understand half the things I was saying. Whereas my WP7 worked like a dream. But to be honest, I've never been a fan of speech. I first loved the voice command on the Mac when I discovered a few years, but then it just became obsolete.

Voice control has been around for years, it's just never taken off, and I don't think it will.

Guest said:

From using Siri she gets about 95% correct from what I say. I really enjoy Siri and never used the other products so I can't compare. I think integrating reminders and appointments is a big thing the others can't do....Plus Siri just seems to understand most everything I say without saying it a certain way and she is funny at times.

Guest said:

Another website ran a are some of the results..I think they tell you which one is more advanced.

Original: "Create a meeting tomorrow at 10 AM."

Tellme: Searching for "creating a meeting tomorrow at teen anal"...

Siri: OK, here's your meeting. Note that you already have a meeting about TAE Course at 8:45 AM...

Original: "Send text to Simone."

Tellme: Searching for "stain detector simo"...

Siri: OK, I can send a text to Simone Arnold for you... What would you like it to say?

Original: "What time is it in Perth?"

Tellme: Searching for "what time is it impo"...

Siri: In Perth, it's 5:00 PM.

Original: "Play artist Skrillex."

Tellme: Searching for "play artist screamworks"...

Siri: Now playing Skrillex.... [music plays]

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Chazz, then MS didn't have Siri like functionality a year ago. Apple has had Voice Control for some time now, but it was nothing like Siri, it also used voice commands, that's why Siri is so unique you don't have to give it some predefined commands.

Guest said:

Apple didn't have this technology, until they bought the Applet maker (6 months ago)

I've been talking to my computer for nearly a DECADE, through Dragon Speaking.. on the PC.

MrAnderson said:

It is true that MS and Google have had technology like this, however, they forget that the charm is in Siri's response. The Natural Language recognition technology combind with clever output.

Remeber those AOL chatbots that would respond to you. This is just an evolution of this, using text to speach in conjuction with natuarl language and speach recognition.

Tellme and the Google search systems work to there specs. But I never have have experienced them going down with server troubles. But yes Siri is in Beta, and should be no reason for purchasing you iPhone 4S; it was not factored into my reasoning...

Chazz said:

mario said:

Chazz, then MS didn't have Siri like functionality a year ago. Apple has had Voice Control for some time now, but it was nothing like Siri, it also used voice commands, that's why Siri is so unique you don't have to give it some predefined commands.

So if I say "text mom" and then say my text and send it to her, that's not the same thing? Siri isn't magical, it uses commands as well,

I had a ATT rep trying to show siri off to me and he'd say "text my father" and she'd respond that she didn't know who his father was. It's cute that it can give you responses but, functionality is what I like.

Guest said:

Apple: We make an OS an it just works.

Microsoft: We make an OS too and you can pay through the teeth for the next version that fails to fix everything that doesn't work.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

I just LOL at these "My daddy is bigger than your daddy fun-fests".

Use whatever works for you and just grin at the rest

MilwaukeeMike said:

jobeard said:

I just LOL at these "My daddy is bigger than your daddy fun-fests".

Use whatever works for you and just grin at the rest

I know... isn't there something called ownership bias, where you think something is better/worth more because you own it? Owners of pickup trucks have this problem too.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

I know... isn't there something called ownership bias, ...
another view often quoted is

when the only tool in the tool box is a hammer, somehow everything looks like a nail

Guest said:

Siri is nothing new, or 'Apple' limited. It's just a PandoraBot, they've been around for a long time and can be ON ANY OS, like UltraHal or ALICE, you can use chatbots, with add-on voice recognition. I use AARON, that operates on the .NET framework. You can actually have your computer, tell your phone what to do. The bots use the sync data to organize my life, the only limitations are your imagination.

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