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Cortana arrives on Macs before Siri

Barry Collins
19 Aug 2015
Parallels Desktop for Mac
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Parallels Desktop for Mac 11 brings Microsoft's voice assistant to Macs

"Hey, Siri. How on Earth did Cortana end up the Mac before you did?" In case Apple's digital voice assistant doesn't have the answer, we can tell you that it's thanks to a new feature in Parallels Desktop for Mac 11. 

The latest version of the virtualisation software allows users to run Windows 10 from within OS X (as opposed to Apple's Boot Camp, which forces you to boot into one OS or the other). But it's also taken the unusual step of implementing a specfic Windows feature, namely Cortana, and making it available to Mac users even when they don't have a Windows desktop open at the time.

That means Mac owners can be, say, working on a document in Pages, and say "Hey, Cortana" to awaken Microsoft's voice assistant.  The Cortana window emerges from the OS X Dock, in a similar fashion to the way it operates from the Windows 10 Taskbar.

Apple's Siri appears on iPhone, iPad and iPod products, but has yet to be introduced to the desktop OS. Rumours suggest it will be used to help control a forthcoming version of the Apple TV, but Apple has so far remained surprisingly reluctant to let her loose on OS X. 

Other new features in Parallels Desktop for Mac 11 include support for the latest version of OS X, El Capitan. Parallels says it's offering "experimental support" for the new OS in its current beta state, with full support to be provided when it's officially launched this autumn. 

Parallels also claims the new software is kinder on MacBook batteries, with a Travel Mode that the company claims extends battery life by up to a quarter. Performance has also improved by up to 50%, the company boasts.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 11 is available now for £64.99 for first-time buyers, whilst those upgrading from a previous version can buy it for £34.99 from the Parallels website

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