Microsoft share price: Company reveals voice-controlled digital assistant

on Apr 5, 2014
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Listen Saturday, April 5: Microsoft unveiled this week Cortana – a digital assistant for Windows Phone handsets that uses the search engine Bing and data stored on the device to make personalised suggestions and carry out tasks. Shares in the tech giant have declined by about one percent over the last five trading days, closing at $39.87 yesterday despite an announcement that the company would offer Windows for free on phones and tables with screens smaller than nine inches.

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Cortana was showcased by Windows Phone chief Joe Belfiore at the company’s Build developers conference in San Francisco. It will first launch in the US, then in the UK and China and finally in other markets as part of a Windows Phone 8.1 system software upgrade. If allowed, the virtual assistant can anticipate the needs of the user by looking through their calendar, contacts, email and browsing history. However, if some of its inferences are wrong, the user can overwrite the rules it follows. “The point is the user is in control of his or her relationship with Cortana,” Belfiore explained.

This week Microsoft also said that Windows will now come free for all devices with screens below nine inches. The deal includes the consumer versions of Windows such as Windows Phone, Windows 8.1 and Windows RT. While the tech giant had never revealed how much it charged vendors for the Windows Phone OS, experts put the price at about $15 apiece.
The latest moves by Microsoft, alongside the release of the Office for iPad application (Software giant unveils Office for iPad), signal the company’s willingness to move to a cross-platform approach. “Our view is that we are witnessing the biggest shift in attitude by Microsoft since the pivot around the Internet in the late 90’s,” IDC analyst Al Hilwa says.

In the past, Microsoft’s business model relied on charging computer makers about $100 for a Windows license. However, that strategy l proves faulty in the market for phones and tablets, where Google and Apple dominate. The tech giant seems to have realised this and is finally implementing a different model – making money on services and software that come with Windows. It seems like a step in the right direction, with Microsoft announcing this week that the Office for iPad was downloaded 12 million times in just seven days.

**Analysts on Microsoft**
RBC Capital reaffirmed its ‘sector perform’ rating on Microsoft’s shares in an investor note sent in March. It lifted its stock price target from $37.00 to $44.00.
Three equity analysts rate Microsoft as a ‘sell’, 19 give it a ‘hold’ rating and 11 are calling it a ‘buy’. The shares have a consensus rating of ‘hold’ and an average price target of $37.28.
**As of Friday, April 4 buy Microsoft shares at $39.88.**
**As of Friday, April 4 sell Microsoft shares at $39.86.**


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