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Windows Phone 8.1’s Siri rival Cortana is proving to be a great reason to upgrade early to the update, offering a wealth of useful voice-activated features, as well as a nice line in amusing, pithy responses to instructions that have little to do with booking appointments and making phone calls.

Let’s take a look at just what she can do.

Activating Cortana

Before you get started with Cortana, you’ll have to upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1. If this isn’t available to you yet, you might consider the Developer Update as an alternative How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now If you want to speak to Cortana and get access to other cool new features, you will have to wait until June at least. Unless you'd update early. Like now. Read More .

Once this is installed, you’ll need to configure Cortana. Developer Update users will need to fudge things a little to trick the service into thinking you’re in the USA How To Activate & Use Cortana On Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview How To Activate & Use Cortana On Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview Are you missing Cortana, the Google Now and Siri speech control rival, on your Windows Phone 8.1? Get it now! Read More . If you’re running the full Windows Phone 8.1 update, however, this shouldn’t be a problem.

After configuration, Cortana can be opened by holding the Search button on your Windows Phone. Ready? Time to try some basic commands.

Common Questions & Commands

When you press the Search button, Cortana will be ready for you to start talking. So try “Who are you?” which will illicit the response:

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“In short, I am your personal assistant. I try to make things easier to do on your phone.”

muo-wp81-cortana-tricks-who

What sort of things, you might well wonder. Well, you might ask Cortana to “remind me when I get home to cook dinner for my wife.” This will depend on how you’ve configured the Cortana notebook, a collection of settings that she uses to help you. As long as she knows where “home” is, and you have location services activated The Secret To Disabling Mobile Phone Localization The Secret To Disabling Mobile Phone Localization The increased connectivity that is afforded by mobile phones and tablets has a distinct dark side – many of the apps and games that we use can reveal our location, one way or another. This... Read More she will be able to help.

Similarly, “How do I get home?” will also require location services, and prompt Cortana to send your details to your preferred satnav app, which will then open to display your route home.

We’ve covered the bulk of common, app-related tasks and native features of Cortana previously Go Hands Free By Using Cortana Voice Control On Windows Phone 8.1 Go Hands Free By Using Cortana Voice Control On Windows Phone 8.1 Cortana is a voice controlled virtual assistant. To make her work for you, you need to know how to delegate. Let us show you. Read More .

Like the iPhone’s Siri, Cortana has a few tricks up her sleeve, amusing Easter eggs to entertain and beguile…

Having Fun With Cortana

There’s more to Cortana than acting like a virtual secretary. She’s a fun girl to have around. When she’s not playing MP3s from your collection (“Play Led Zeppelin”) she can tell jokes and sing songs.

“Tell me a joke” will result in Cortana offering:

“A ham sandwich walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Sorry, we don’t serve food in here.'”

muo-wp81-cortana-tricks-sings

Meanwhile, you can ask her to “Sing me a song,” to which she will respond with:

“I can sing this one: Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.”

If that doesn’t work, Auld Lang Syn will be intoned with the words “Can you sing?” It’s not a great vocal performance, but good enough to amuse friends on New Year’s Eve!

She’s got a great sense of humour, too. Ask her to weigh up the opposition with a question like “Which is better, Siri or Cortana?” She’ll tell it like it (fictionally) is:

“Not to brag, but apparently I’m going to help save the universe in about 500 years.”

In case you didn’t know, Cortana is named after the AI assistant in the Halo games. She’s also voiced by the same actress, Jen Taylor.

Cortana’s a bit of a sci-fi movie fan, too. Remember 2001: A Space Odyssey? There’s a scene in the film when astronaut Dave Bowman orders the computer, HAL 9000, to open the pod bay doors. Try it with Cortana, and she responds (in as close an approximation of Douglas Rain as she can muster):

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

muo-wp81-cortana-tricks-jedi

She’s perhaps less of a fan of Star Wars. Greet her with the familiar Jedi sentiment “May the force be with you” and Cortana will respond with Han Solo’s “There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny” or Yoda’s “For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”

Surprising Answers To Racy Questions

If you want more entertainment from Cortana, try these more adult questions. We’ll let you find out the responses yourselves:

Do you love me?

Will you marry me?

Are you sexy?

Who’s your daddy?

When all is done with Cortana, remember to be polite. She likes it when you say “thank you”, and you might, too.

Cortana Makes Light (Entertainment) Work Of Digital Assistance

There are plenty of tasks that Cortana can do to improve your productivity, but if you’re just looking to kill a few moments of time, her collection of entertaining answers to your less work-related questions can raise a smile.

Do you have any favourites that we’ve included here, or are there any Cortana classics that we’ve somehow overlooked?

Hit the comments and let us know!

Featured image credit: Placeit.net

  1. GamerFan54
    April 11, 2016 at 11:44 am

    ask her "where is the master chief" she either says, "that's classified"
    or "Probably somewhere off in the galaxy ... he's good at that"

  2. Zack
    April 20, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    What is your favorite color?
    Do you know Siri?
    Do you like Siri?
    Do you like Clippy?
    Do you know Clippy?
    Where are you from?
    What does the fox say?
    What is the best operating system?
    What is the best phone?
    What is the best tablet?
    What is the best computer?
    How old are you?
    Do you have a boyfriend?
    Will you be my valentine?
    Will you marry me?
    What is the best search engine?
    What do you look like?
    Do you like Bill Gates?
    What do you think of Apple?
    What do you think of Google?
    What are you wearing?
    What is halo?
    Where is the master Chief?
    What is the meaning of life?
    What is the answer to the universe?
    What do you eat?
    What is your favorite....? (food, etc)
    Can you cook?
    Do you have a mother?
    Do you have a sister?

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    (Read her almost any tongue twister)

    I love you.
    Kiss me.
    I'm bored.
    Knock knock.
    Talk to me.
    I'm angry.
    I'm sad.
    I'm happy.
    Tell me a joke.
    Sing me a song.
    Tell me a story.
    Give me a foot rub.
    Talk dirty to me.
    I'm drunk.
    Beam me up, Scotty.
    Open the pod bay doors.
    Use the force.
    Dance.
    Good morning.
    Good night.

  3. alEX
    January 27, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    When you ask her "may the force be with you" she also responds "the force is with you, young skywalker, but you are not a Jedi, yet" :D

    • Christian Cawley
      February 8, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Oh I am definitely trying THAT today!

  4. bobfall
    July 1, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Does anyone know if Cortana can read news articles like when driving?

    • R
      July 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      You can probably ask her to! ;)

  5. Keefe K
    June 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Unfortunately, I lack Cortana, since I haven't installed WP8.1 on my phone yet (I'm waiting for the official release.) But I look forward to finally having Master Chief's trusty AI in the palm of my hand! Mainly, I'm curious what will happen when I ask her questions about Siri. "Cortana...I heard Siri smack talking you the other day! Do you have anything you wish to say back?" Lol

    • Nakshathra
      September 10, 2014 at 5:52 am

      you can install the latest windows 8.1 update on your windows phone.
      Receive pre-release OS updates on their device phone, directly from Microsoft! ... on Lumia 520,620,720,525.
      Step 1:
      First you need a preview for developer account
      Step 2:
      You have to go to your phone, search in the nokia store as preview for developer app, then INSTALL,
      techrulz.com/2014/08/how-to-download-windows-phone-81-update.html

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