Will Microsoft's Work Assistant with Cortana integration be a less annoying, more sophisticated digital assistant for Office, or will it be a reboot version like a Microsoft Bob 2.0 or Clippy 3.0?
In 2013, Bill Gates claimed that Microsoft Bob would “re-emerge” with “more sophistication.” In 2010, Time magazine listed Bob in its 50 worst inventions, calling Microsoft Bob “a whole operating system designed around Clippy.” 10 days ago, after Gates expressed ‘concern’ about super-intelligent AI, he mentioned Microsoft’s “Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to.”
Shortly afterward, WMPU spotted a 2MB Work Assistant prototype listed under Windows Phone business apps as being in private internal beta testing. Since then, reports have been circulating that the Personal Agent Gates referred to may well be Microsoft’s Work Assistant app; it’s focused on Office like Clippy, but it’s a bit like Clippy skipped a version and is coming out as Clippy 3.0 for Windows Phones.
Work Assistant for Windows Phones, according to Softpedia, is an “improved version of Cortana specifically focused on Office, so you can always ask it for more information on a specific feature of the productivity suite using a voice command.” Neowin suggested that Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant may soon be integrated into Office applications, but it might not be only for mobile devices, as The Verge reported that Microsoft plans to integrate Cortana into Office on desktop devices as well.
Gates has been involved with the Work Assistant app’s creation, according to sources of ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. Her source added that Work Assistant is “being developed by Microsoft's Digital Life + Work group, which is part of the Applications and Services Group (ASG) run by Qi Lu. Julie Larson-Green, Chief Experience Officer of ASG, is believed to be spearheading the Work Assistant effort, and Gates has been involved.”
Windows Blog Italy leaked photos from Windows Phone “Work Assistant.”
When the app is first opened, it shows a hub for all your Office documents as seen in the screenshot above.
According to Windowsblogitalia, the app accepts voice commands such as Open, Search, Share, Edit and more complex voice commands like “open the presentation yesterday” or “email this file to this person.”
“Thanks for trying out Work Assistant! Here’s some help documentation on some of our main features.” Under Cortana Integration, the documentation states, “Our app is enabled to work with Cortana. All you have to do is start your command (voice or text) with ‘Office’ and then continue with the rest of your command. We support the same commands through Cortana as we do within our app.”
Windows Central also got hold of and posted two more screenshots from Microsoft’s Work Assistant app.
Do you hope Work Assistant moves beyond being an app for Windows Phone and into Windows 10?