The Email That Microsoft’s Cortana Assistant Won’t & Can’t Read: Yahoo Mail

Microsoft’s new cool Cortana personal assistant uses information from within your email to make recommendations and provide predictive suggestions. That is, unless you use Yahoo Mail. As it turns out, Microsoft is forbidden from  ”reasoning” on Yahoo Mail for contractual reasons.

I’m still gathering more of the details, but Microsoft representatives told me that the prohibition is tied some Microsoft-Yahoo contract that’s old, that predates Windows Phone, but which is still in force.

Part of how Cortana operates is by reading through email on a Windows Phone device, then extracting information that may help it make predictions. Specifically, the only thing it’s extracting right now is flight information, Microsoft tells me — but more entities will be added in the future.

Google Now, Google’s predictive search tool, also operates by reading through email — but only Gmail, stored on Google’s servers. So potentially, Microsoft’s Cortana could grow into a more robust predictive tool, since it could mine Gmail emails or emails from other providers.

All that is done with the user’s permission, but the main point is that a user who wants predictive search but doesn’t use Gmail is out of luck with Google Now. That’s not so with Cortana. Gmail, Outlook, it doesn’t care — except for the caveat about Yahoo.

I suspect that Microsoft and Yahoo will likely find a way to allow for Cortana to “reason” off Yahoo Mail in the future, especially now that she’s formally been announced to the world. But we’ll see. Yahoo could continue to say no.

Postscript: I’ve heard back to Yahoo which said “The details of our contractual agreements are confidential” in response to whether things might change on the prohibition or not.

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Microsoft: Cortana | Top News | Yahoo: Mail

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About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • KNERDY

    Who still uses yahoo mail?

  • Samuel Clemens

    I still do (besides my gmail account), because it has some great features.

    Example: nowhere else I could find an easier way to set up a disposable mail account with its own set of parameters (name to display, filters, etc.). It’s VERY handy whenever some web service requires me to subscribe via mail validation. By doing that and setting new accounts, I can easily see how companies treat my personal info according to their own privacy rules.

    And it gives me 1 TB up there.
    For free.
    Not bad!

  • Neel Gupta

    So you want someone else to read your emails to you? …like an audiobook ?

  • Neel Gupta

    I do. I have both Gmail & Ymail
    But I don’t use any M$ related cloud services.
    Also, going to install Ubuntu 14 on my windows 8 computer.
    Good to stay away from the controlling mechanisms of M$.

  • Flowergrower

    So true! I do exactly the same, plus that at the same time, I run rules to automatically forward everything from YMail to GMail, so I can handle everything from one account :-)

  • aditiverma

    I hate to be that person, but Mr. Sullivan, you’ve most likely heard back *from* Yahoo…

  • Larry Moniz

    It’s not bad enough that various government agencies, including the NSA spy and violate our privacy? Do we really need companies like Microsoft also probing all our habits and coversations? Frankly it sounds more like Mr. Putin’s former employer than Bill (honest, I’m giving all my greed-earned money to charity) Gates.

  • Larry Moniz

    Really? Yahoo only ranks two or three in number of users. That’s who.

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