Since Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S last month, everyone has been talking about one thing: Siri. The lovable assistant is the product of over 40 years of artificial intelligence research and the US CALO program (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes).

Siri isn’t apparently exclusive to Apple’s handset. Microsoft’s chief strategy and research officer Craig Mundie recently told Forbes that Microsoft has had similar voice control tech on its Windows Phone platform for more than a year!

We know, we didn’t see that one coming either…

Here’s what Mundie told Forbes in a recent interview:

“People are infatuated with Apple announcing it. It’s good marketing, but at least as the technological capability you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced.”

Right. It’s amazing to us that someone in such a high position at such a prominent company could make such an ignorant comment. For an example of just how dissimilar the two features are, here is an excerpt of a Windows Phone review from PCWorld:

“For example, I spoke a text message to someone saying, “How are you liking your nursing job over at Beaumont?” It came out translated as “How you liking your word nutjob over moment?” Something tells me my friend won’t understand what the hell I’m talking about.

To get the best possible results using the voice commands and speech-to-text features, speak very clearly, and eliminate as much background noise as possible–like the radio, or other people talking.”

That doesn’t sound like the same feature that Scott Forstall demoed on stage in front of a crowded auditorium at Apple’s iPhone event last month. On top of that, Windows Phone’s voice command feature can’t interact with its user or other applications. For instance, it won’t open up the clock application and set an alarm for you. It also can’t set location-based reminders.

In fact, there’s a lot of things Microsoft’s voice command feature can’t do that Siri can. You can see why it was a bit of a stretch (to say the least) for Craig Mundie to compare it to Apple’s voice-controlled assistant. Same goes for the Android fans that keeps insisting Siri is just another voice-to-text robot.

Siri’s abilities aren’t just limited to a list of speakable commands. She understands normal, everyday language. She can even remember names, birthdays, and other important information.

Sure, Apple was a little late to the voice control party. But that’s because, as usual, it was taking something that had been done half-assed everywhere else, and making it great.

[image via anandtech]