Is Microsoft right -- does Cortana clean Siri's clock?

What does a head-to-head test find?

Microsoft is swamping the airwaves with a new ad showing how its Windows Phone personal assistant Cortana is superior to the iPhone's Siri. Is Microsoft on target or making false claims?

This new ad highlights features such as Cortana's ability to work with your calendar and with the map app to provide relevant real-time traffic information. It highlights the two front-facing speakers on the HTC One M8 for Windows, compared to just one on the iPhone, located on the bottom of the phone.

The ad is a follow up to one launched in July that shows Cortana easily beating Siri in a variety of tasks.

Is Microsoft right? Is Cortana really that much better than Siri?

In tests I've run so far on the HTC One M8 for Windows and on the iPhone, I'd have to say that for as far as I've gotten, Microsoft is right. Cortana is more useful than Siri. It provides more detailed, useful answers and help in whatever I asked it to do.

I detail my findings in my review of the HCT One, "HTC One (M8) for Windows: Top hardware for Windows Phone fans." When I asked Cortana "What's wrong with the Red Sox this year?" I found links to relevant articles, including one titled, "5 things that went wrong for the Boston Red Sox in 2014." When I asked Siri the same thing, I only got the time for the Red Sox game that night.

I said "Show me paintings of William Turner," the British artist who did his best work in the early to mid-19th century. Siri's answer: "I didn't find anything for the paintings of William Turner." Cortana, although it showed me several irrelevant links, at least was smart enough to also link me to the proper page on Wikipedia.

I also found a variety of things that Siri couldn't do, such popping up reminders not just based on time, but also based on physical location and on the person whom you're emailing, texting or calling.

This wasn't in-depth testing, but they were tests that use the kine of help people ask for every day. I plan to do more testingand include Google Now in the mix. When I finish, I'll let you know what I find.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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