Skip to main content

Hey, Bingo? Steve Ballmer nearly changed Cortana’s name in last act at Microsoft

Cortana’s halo might now be dim, but there once was a time when the virtual assistant could have gone by the much more silly name of Bingo. That’s all according to a newsletter written by a former Microsoft employee that gets into the origins of Cortana, its struggles, and more.

The newsletter is quite in-depth. In it, former Microsoft program manager Sandeep Paruchuri discusses how former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in his last act as CEO, just before handing off his duties to Satya Nadella, renamed the entire Cortana experience to the Microsoft Bing-branded “Bingo.” Fortunately, Nadella then came along, the Cortana team waited things out, and Cortana got to keep its name as the development team intended.

Cortana on Windows 11.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Luckily, Satya had different ideas and was a huge supporter of the project because of his belief in the power of A.I. Under his leadership, Cortana got to keep her name and was declared ready to ship,” writes Paruchuri.

That’s one of the most interesting tidbits of the newsletter, but other points look at how Cortana evolved from Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 and eventually made it to Windows 10 when the new operating system debuted. Paruchuri even gets into how Cortana evolved from rival assistant Siri’s launch in 2011, and how naming Microsoft’s own virtual assistant after Master Chief’s assistant from Halo was appropriate.

“They felt Cortana was the perfect metaphor, as she was always looking out for the chief to see what trouble was coming. Everyone in the team wished they had that, the perfect personal assistant who could see around corners for you,” Paruchuri explained.

Yet that’s not the only possible name Microsoft’s virtual assistant could have had. Earlier, in 2012, Microsoft’s marketing team considered the name “Alyx” as the public name for Cortana. Yet, that changed when people signed petitions to ask Microsoft to stick with the leaked name of Cortana.

Cortana is not what it once used to be, and now is now more of a productivity assistant, rather than a digital assistant. Microsoft shut down the Cortana apps on iOS and Android in 2020 and has since moved it into the Outlook app on those platforms. Cortana can still be downloaded and used on Windows as a separate app, though it is no longer installed as default.

Editors' Recommendations

Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
Samsung Cyber Monday deals: TVs, tablets, smartphones, and more
Stack of Samsung Galaxy S22 phones.

Samsung is behind a lot of different electronic devices in the market, like TVs, monitors, smartphones, tablets, and refrigerators. It's among the most trusted names in the consumer electronics industry, with offerings that range from budget to premium, and you can secure discounts across the board through the Cyber Monday deals that have launched. You're going to have to act quickly though, because there's always high demand for Samsung Cyber Monday deals. We've gathered some of our favorite bargains below to help you decide fast, but it's also worth checking Samsung has on sale by clicking on the button below.

Samsung TV Cyber Monday deals

Read more
Best Chromebook Cyber Monday deals on HP, Lenovo, and more
Digital Trends Best Cyber Monday Chromebook Deals

Cyber Monday deals are online, making this the perfect time to grab a new laptop, especially if you're thinking about getting a Chromebook. They're easy to set up, simple to use, and affordable, making the Chrome OS-powered devices perfect for students and casual users.

If you do want a more premium laptop, but with up to $1,000 off of a high-powered laptop, we highly recommend you check out these Best Buy Cyber Monday laptop deals, or Cyber Monday laptop deals and Cyber Monday MacBook deals, for PC and MacOS respectively.
Best HP Chromebook Cyber Monday Deals

Read more
Best Cyber Monday laptop deals: Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more
Digital Trends Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

Since Cyber Monday deals are going strong, it's the perfect time to buy new tech like laptops. We've seen some fantastic deals over the past week, and there are no signs that the bargains are slowing down. There are some amazing laptop deals right now from a wide variety of retailers, and we've collected our favorites below. You'll see the best of Amazon Cyber Monday laptop deals and Best Buy Cyber Monday laptop deals. We've pulled from a ton of different brands, all from the PC side, but if you want Cyber Monday MacBook deals, check out that list too.
Top 3 Cyber Monday laptop deals
HP 17-inch laptop -- $250, was $500

Currently heavily discounted as part of HP laptop Cyber Monday deals, the HP 17-inch laptop is ideal for anyone on a slim budget. It looks more expensive than it is thanks to having a 17-inch HD+ screen with 1600 x 900 and 250 nits of brightness. That extra room also means the keyboard is roomier with a numeric pad to the right of it that's ideal for entering a lot of data. The laptop has an AMD Athlon Gold 7220U processor along with 8GB of memory and 128GB of SSD storage. It also has a lift-hinge to ensure you can type at a more natural position.

Read more