Microsoft’s Savas Parastatidis has revealed via a blog post that he is leaving Microsoft after nine years with the company, having served in various roles. What makes Savas so important? He was one of the Bing architects behind Cortana as we know her today.
Savas’ Linkedin profile describes him as a ‘proud member’ of the Bing team that built, operated, and is continuously evolving the cloud platform behind Cortana. As the team’s Architech, Savas deals with user experience, services and platform design, system architecture, technical coordination, software engineering, vision definition, and strategy.
While working at Bing, Savas build a prototype called “Wicked” which was a demonstration of how a personal assistant could be created from the composition of existing Bing services. The idea was simple — bring together various systems that provide access to the world’s knowledge, make it capable of understanding human speech and the user, and have it support the events of the world in real-time. Tie all these together and you have the birth of a personal assistant.
Savas goes on to explain that while he had an idea of a personal assistant, other architects at Microsoft had similar ideas — such as Marcus Ash, who we all know as the man behind Cortana on the Windows Phone team.
“I very fondly remember the days I built the prototype, codenamed “Wicked”, as a demonstration of how a personal assistant could be built from the composition of existing Bing services. I wasn’t the only one with the idea and definitely not the first one to demonstrate it. However, the stars just happened to align around that time. The Windows Phone team, under the leadership of Marcus Ash, also wanted to build a personal assistant. They reached out to Bing. The executives assigned the task of building the cloud services to support the personal assistant efforts to Mike Calcagno. I was paired with Mike, who became my manager, to come up with the architecture and get the project started from the Bing side. Cortana was born as a user-centric, cloud-driven personal assistant experience for the Windows Phone.”
Savas adds that it has always been his dream to build a personal assistant. “I believe that our futures will include an omni-present, ambient, personal assistant with personality to act as the bridge to the world of information and services in the cloud,” Savas adds.
“I leave Microsoft being confident that the amazing Bing and Windows teams will continue to innovate in order to make Cortana even better. I am extremely proud of the Cortana work and the people involved. Many more great things are coming. I consider myself extremely lucky to have participated in Cortana’s first and second iterations. Next year’s Cortana is looking awesome already and I am very proud to have contributed to the project.”
The digital assistant was born in Microsoft Research labs back in 2009, with her name derived from a character in Halo. Microsoft unveiled Cortana in April of 2014 and has been touted as the “most personal smartphone assistant” that learns your interests and helps keep track of all that matters. Since her debut, Cortana has gone head to head against Apple’s Siri in various and sometimes hilarious video advertisements.
While Savas exits Microsoft after nine years, his dream of having a personal assistant has already come to fruition with Cortana. Take a quick moment and wish Savas a fond farewell on Twitter and thank him for being a part of the birth of Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana — who is already available on Windows Phone and is set to arrive on Windows 10 too.