Microsoft comments on Siri, proves they still don't get it

In an interview with Forbes, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie poopoos Apple's Siri intelligent virtual assistant, saying it's nothing Microsoft's TellMe hasn't been doing since the introduction of Windows Phone 7 over a year ago.

You can take these Windows Phones now and you can just pick them up and you can say text Eric and it'll ask you what you want to say and it transcribes it. And say send. You can query anything through Bing by just saying the words. All that is already there.

It's amazing how decades later, Microsoft still doesn't get it. A feature isn't just a feature isn't just a feature. It's more than the sum of its technology and design. Android had great voice control going back to the Nexus One. But Siri isn't voice control. Siri is context and relationships and Siri is absolutely personality. That Apple programmed Siri to feel like a Pixar character is what made it engaging and what got the internet to flood itself with screenshots showing hundreds of funny, witty, strange, and engaging Siri moments. It isn't that Siri can transcribe a text message to Eric, it's how it does it and how you feel doing it.

Windows Mobile and other had touchscreens for years before Apple debuted the iPhone. Then and now, it wasn't about the spec but the experience.

Source: Forbes

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 63 comments. Add yours.

Hisham Al-Abri says:

I don't know what the Apple community doesn't get
but all this siri crap is just not that great at all
I have now had my iPhone 4S for 3 weeks and I have not used Siri (for something serious), not once.

futurix says:

It's a gimmick created for promotion of 4S - nothing more. It's fun for the first 15 minutes, then you turn it off and never use it again.

Skylartoups says:

Apple promotes Siri but it is still in beta form, the real bread and butter of the 4S are the A5 and new camera, plus being a world phone and new antenna.

Johna says:

I think Siri will be really useful texting people at home or in the car. I understand that you can't really go around tell Siri what to do at work because the texts are usually personal. However, at home, it always faster to press the Siri button and ask what the weather is, or say a message than to do it with your fingers. When you're in the car, it's nice to have the messages read to you and then reply without needing your eyes. When the feature set expands to e-mails and apps, then it'll be even more useful.

Hisham Al-Abri says:

I don't see how using Siri to see what the weather is like is faster than doing it yourself
Siri always has to think about what you said to undersand you, then get the weather forecast
tapping one button (weather icon) is much faster than pulling out siri, telling her, waiting for it to think and then seeing what the weather is like

jbrandonf says:

Its faster to use Siri than pull down the notification shade? Really?

iMore-On says:

And Apple fanboys erupt in rage!

You says:

And trolls still try to stir the pot.

TC says:

Microsoft still doesn't get it,If they have a truly amazing Siri like application on their own phone why is it know one but them are talking about it,This is the same old thing,I never hear about anything great that Microsoft is doing,Apple has proven that Siri is going to be huge,Apple understands what people need before they actually need it,I was a frustrated Windows user for years,I can totally say I have never enjoyed windows the way I totally enjoy everything about Apple.

futurix says:

It is typical Apple-style versus Microsoft-style situation:
Apple went for fake real-world metaphor of assistant, Microsoft created something without real-word connect (just bare tech).
And this is just a continuation of a trend - compare for example iOS or Lion UIs (new iCal anyone?) to Metro UI of Windows Phone 7.

Zephyr says:

U is just a fool, why don't u go on troll on Microsoft forum? Because there's nothing interest on there to talk about.

Seantudisco says:

I asked Siri to cook my thanksgiving dinner and she did. whats wrong with Siri?

Seantudisco says:

I asked Siri to cook my thanksgiving dinner and she did. whats wrong with Siri?

majorace says:

People who discredit Siri and its voice recognition technology are short sighted. How about a comparable reaction to a completely different technology: People said electric cars were stupid at its introduction because they can only go 60mph and only 100 miles in distance. Well, guess what, its technology evolved and now there are many hybrids on the road today. So Siri's technology can't get better? C'mon people.

Concealdcarrier says:

Not saying Siri wont get better there ace. My navigation system by Msoft was in my car at the end of 09. I've been talking to my car since i rolled it off the lot. It tells me where fuel stations are, where I need to go, etc. Apple didn't invent this. I own Apple Iphone, but Siri is not very useful on a phone. And those of you that stood and waited for the 4S when you have a 4.. Money terribly spent my friends...

majorace says:

I have an iphone 4, but did not and would not upgrade to the 4S, simply because Siri was the main upgrade, but its not at a fully functional level yet.
But you bring up an interesting point. Voice recognition has been around for a while, and there's never been so much debate over its use. So why is Siri's natural speech recognition capabilities causing all this commotion? Because it has further uses outside the phone. People just haven't thought of them yet.

majorace says:

Another case in point. Touchscreen phones had been around for a while before the iphone. The first may have been the iPAQ in 2002. My question is, why did it take a whole 5 years until a phone came out that supported multitouch? It is such a great leap over the old way of zooming in and out of maps and photos. Of course now, it seems like such a common sense thing to implement.
Watch the TED video of developer Jeff Han demonstrate it in 2006, and listen to the reaction of the crowd. Good ideas aren't always immediately apparent.
My point is, natural speech recognition is a good technology now. But if someone like Mr. Han comes up with something brilliant to extend this technology's reach and value, who would be against that?

kingweb says:

Maybe I don't get it either. I have the 4s and so far Siri is just a gimmick. Half the time I have to repeat myself because it misunderstands me. Most of my requests, it Just offers to do a google search. Only convenient thing I can find in it is when I am driving and I need to type something. I can let Siri do it for me.

Johna says:

When you walk in public, there are people of all different ages around you. It's the same on the internet but you don't see how old they are because you don't see their height or wrinkles. It's so stupid to read in these comments adults picking fun at little kids and feeling smug about it. It really shows how the internet can spread stupidity as quickly (or quicker) than it does knowledge.

Hans Madera says:

Insert "nothing comes for free" hahaha

Roger says:

Engineers don't get architects.

Johna says:

Yeah, their lack of understanding of reality is so confusing to us. "What do you mean you think the building will float!?" "You can't push on a rope".

futurix says:

Actually I did not disable it - because I think disabling Siri also disabled voice dictation (which is useful).

Jeffreytrigger says:

Wow, because using Siri is so much easier than hitting the button on your keyless ignition. Siri, is a gimmick. It is also, still in beta. So what it can and will be able to do is up in the air.
Two, to everybody talking about relationships and phones, you all need to get out more. Find a park, take a walk, go to a social gathering...

Carioca says:

Humm...just to give credit where credit is due, Apple did not program Siri do anything, they bought Siri pretty much ready.
And it's never too late to remind everybody that all the tech behind Siri was developed with public money thru DARPA. You paid for it, now someone else makes money with it.

Ecko099 says:

What you need to think about is...
Was Siri and its "personality" needed for this. Or could I have got it done with plain voice commands. If you answer this honestly you'll understand why Siri is a "gimmick".

arin.failing says:

You miss the point of Siri... its "gimmick" (as you call it) makes you want to use it; it draws you to it. That's what you and Craig Mundie don't quite get. People like personality and relationships, and that's what Siri is.

Ecko099 says:

@Arin,
Well I don't have a Psychology degree....but I'm 100% sure you can't prove what you just said. Secondly I'm fairly certain people don't want to have "relationships" with electronics. On that note Siri is the same on every device, it's not like it's your dog that is different than everyone elses dog. Or your friend Jeff who there's only one of. This is a computer application that is the same on every phone. I don't see how anyone could form any sort of relationship with it apart from people with metal deficiencies.

fastlane says:

Because they have nothing interesting to discuss on the blogs dedicated to the shit THEY use.

jbrandonf says:

And probably because it bothers you so much that you feel the need to not only reply but to call their stuff shit. Mission accomplished Android fans, you can all go home.

jbrandonf says:

And probably because it bothers you so much that you feel the need to not only reply but to call their stuff shit. Mission accomplished Android fans, you can all go home.

Carioca says:

It's ironic that so many tech analysts write articles in the lines of "Microsoft still doesn't get it" when Microsoft is successful beyond mesure in almost everything they do.
Every edition of Windows, including Vista, has sold more copies than all editions of Mac OS combined. In the year of the iPad the Kinect made the Guiness book as the fastest selling consumer device of all times, a feat yet unsurpassed by any Apple device. And this from a company that "does not get it".
How come such a successful company, that has stood the test of time that almost bankrupted Apple , "doesn't get it" and still manages to excel in so many areas like business applications, gaming, servers and the desktop?

arin.failing says:

you're comparing apples to oranges... no pun intended.
Kinect is an extension of a game console; the iPhone and iPad are stand alone devices.
As for the SOFTWARE/HARDWARE (Apple) apples to SOFTWARE(Microsoft) oranges: A) you have to have a Mac (unless hacked) to run MacOS. This makes purchasing the OS technically more expensive (and a bigger leap of faith) for a new user. Every other machine under the sun will run WindowsOS. And B) Mac is catching up at quite an alarming rate to Windows (even though Windows operating machines make up about 94% of the market share, Mac is doing QUITE well at gaining momentum)

Hisham Al-Abri says:

A) Microsoft is not just a software company (you just mentioned Kinect, I assume you know Kinect is not a software, right?) -- it is mostly focused on software.
B) That's not Carioca's point; he's saying that its wrong to say that "Microsoft does not get it". All its success is proof of its supremacy.

Carioca says:

Well , as has been pointed out, Microsoft does make hardware/software, as in the XBox, the Kinect (which does not need a XBox to work) and their whole line of keyboard and mice.
All I know is that if Microsoft had done to its customers what Apple did with Siri, meaning taking an app that was already functioning perfectly well on its older devices, and making it exclusive to its new device just to force people to upgrade, all hell would have broken loose. As it is, people applauded Apple and though the whole affair was perfectly all right, no one felt cheated.
What I do get is that when people are in a cult, they go though stuff like this and think nothing of it. At least customers never gave Microsoft this kind of religious lenient treatment, which ensured the backwards compatibility that ultimately made all the difference on the Windows platform. That is something Microsoft always "got" much better than Apple.

Jtshurtleff says:

Why do people on every message board get so emotional. Siri is cool and will just get better as it comes out of beta. I use it a lot so far and love it. I also love my Windows computer and use it every day. Just calm down guys and gals it was just an article saying Microsoft thinks their voice recognition is the same as Siri. As for trolls, just stay away and go enjoy ICS because it, too is very cool.

diggity says:

Disagree. At its heart, Siri is nothing more than what has already been available elsewhere. It's not any better at what it does either. The 'personality' aspect of Siri is a flakey gimmick at best.

diggity says:

Disagree. At its heart, Siri is nothing more than what has already been available elsewhere. It's not any better at what it does either. The 'personality' aspect of Siri is a flakey gimmick at best.

FlopTech Engineering says:

Apple loves that Microsoft doesn't get it. Because if Microsoft did get it, they would be scrambling to copy Siri. But no, the Ballmers and Mundies at Microsoft will congratulate themselves. They'll wave a marketing spec sheet with a check mark next to "voice control" when their shareholders ask them "What are you doing about Siri?"
Microsoft's FUD used to be powerful. It used to crush young, vulnerable competitors before they could seriously challenge Microsoft. Now Microsoft uses FUD to convince themselves and their shareholders that everything is OK with the business. That they "get it." That they are making progress into the 21st century. Times change.

Gerry Quaglia says:

How do you know MS isn't working on the very same thing.

Gerry Quaglia says:

How do you know MS isn't working on the very same thing.

FlopTech Engineering says:

Apple loves that Microsoft doesn't get it. Because if Microsoft did get it, they would be scrambling to copy Siri. But no, the Ballmers and Mundies at Microsoft will congratulate themselves. They'll wave a marketing spec sheet with a check mark next to "voice control" when their shareholders ask them "What are you doing about Siri?"
Microsoft's FUD used to be powerful. It used to crush young, vulnerable competitors before they could seriously challenge Microsoft. Now Microsoft uses FUD to convince themselves and their shareholders that everything is OK with the business. That they "get it." That they are making progress into the 21st century. Times change.

FlopTech Engineering says:

As Jean-Louis Gassee tweeted (@gassee):
"If true: We're imbeciles. If false: We're imbeciles."
https://twitter.com/#!/gassee/status/139458990731046914

FlopTech Engineering says:

Hey, traffic is traffic. The more traffic to TiPb.com, the more they can charge for ads. TiPb makes money off trolls too.
Lulz.

Gerry Quaglia says:

What do you want the guy to say? "oh yeah, Apple really kicked our ass on this one" He's talking up his company's product. Has nothing to do with "not getting it".

jbrandonf says:

What else do you expect from Rene?

Gerry Quaglia says:

What do you want the guy to say? "oh yeah, Apple really kicked our ass on this one" He's talking up his company's product. Has nothing to do with "not getting it".

Khumphan Amaratana says:

This post is very biased, in my opinion. While Siri is something to say "wow" at, it's still programmed. It doesn't have a personality. It just has a clever way that it was designed to recognize certain words or phrases. That's all. It doesn't understand what you are saying. All of it was programmed. End of story.
Now if Siri actually can LEARN something (as in ability to remember and adapt to change in environment) then perhaps there's something there. But all of it is now, it's just programmed feature.

rightmuch says:

Other than my iPod, my iPhone 4 is the first major Apple device. All I can say is I'm waiting for the day my PC croaks so that I can get a Mac. Apple devices just work without having to jump through techno hoops. In my experience that's the difference between Apple and Microsoft....and it is all about the experience, something that is doesn't compute with Microsoft.

jbrandonf says:

Wait until you get a Mac before you say it just works.

EagleyeSmith says:

It's voice control ... That's it ... What's the big deal? That's all the guy was saying. ... It's all in a matter of how you implement it.

Hans Madera says:

As usual the fanboys of each side (Microsoft, Apple, Google ) are trolling each other ohh well anyways This guy works at Ms if i were in his shoes i wouldnt pray siri either it comes down to business people Ms want people to use Mango
Apple wants people to buy Idevices and google probably want you to use android so really just chill and enjoy your gadgets because honestly there isnt one who is perfect in everything

Hisham Al-Abri says:

Because people like fuyao are not stupid and ignorant. They're not sheep who buy anything a company throws at them. That's why they're technologically educated, that's why they're here and there.

Toni Starks95 says:

I just used Siri to type this message Siri rocks

Ilene R says:

Dear Rene Ritchie,
I hope that Craig Mundie was wearing a diaper during this interview. When one speaks disapprovingly of something, they are said to 'pooh-pooh' it, not poopoo it. One is a metaphor, one a bodily function.

Cameron Schubert says:

^ this Android Fanboy just bought a 2011 Mac Book pro

jbrandonf says:

Love your post...especially since its on one of the biggest iFan sites on the net. LMAO.

jbrandonf says:

And another one! Keep going..

jbrandonf says:

So I was patient and it paid off...your fanboy is showing.

LOV3LikeRockets says:

Where in the world do you go to school?!

Siriatemyasshole says:

"Apple users are just sheep that buy every new thing that comes out" since when does it make sense to make fun of someone for having the money to buy nice things? Lol I am an apple sheep, cause I'm succesful!! And rich!!! -androidfags-"You buy apple products, that means you have a lot of money" me- " damn!! I hate having more money than the people who use droid" You know who uses droids? White trash pay as u go poor people. Don't hate the playa! Hate the fact that you work at a crap job!