The first release of Windows 10 back in Fall 2014 showed Microsoft’s newest OS in the earliest stages of development: it looked virtually identical to Windows 7 and Windows 8.
A recent release, however, has added new features like Cortana and PC fans around the world are gushing over the upcoming release.
Microsoft just released Build 9926 of Windows 10. It includes a wide variety of updates. The update feature many people are most excited about, however, is Cortana.
Cortana is Microsoft’s new Siri-like voice assistant. Yes, she’s named after that Cortana from Halo (and uses the same voice actress). She’s designed to work on Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 10.
According to early reports, Windows 10’s Cortana is flaky and unreliable – but still pretty cool.
Cortana Starts as A Search Bar
When you first install Windows 10, you’re greeted with a search bar in the bottom left corner of your screen. That search bar features a circular “Cortana” icon. Tap it, and Cortana will prompt you to “enable her.”
Cortana will request access to your calendar appointments, contact list, and current location – and many other things. Basically, Microsoft wants you to rely on Cortana for all your personal management needs.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice something cool about Cortana: you can ask her to call her whatever you like. Get her to call you Master if you’re into the domination thing. Or get her to call you Dragonborn, Khaleesi, or whatever else your weird fantasies desire.
She’s Always Listening
After enabling Cortana, you can customize her settings using the Windows 10 Settings menu. From this menu, you can activate the “Active Listening” feature.
The Active Listening feature means Cortana is always listening to the ambient sounds. She’s waiting to hear your command words which will activate a search or appointment.
Usually, saying “Hey Cortana” is the best way to open a conversation with your new virtual assistant. However, users have reported that this process is fairly “sticky” and that Cortana doesn’t always appear to be listening.
That should change in future updates. But it seems pretty cool to be able to yell across your office, “Hey Cortana, play some music” when you want your PC to blast some tunes.
Top 10 Cortana Commands in Windows 10
Users have already identified most of the Cortana commands in Windows 10. There’s a surprisingly diverse range of options. As you might expect, Cortana directs users to the Bing search engine instead of Google for all info-based queries.
The top 10 commands identified thus far include:
1) Call or text a friend in your contact book
2) Create a new calendar entry or check your current calendar appointments
3) Take a note
4) Set an alarm
5) Ask about the current weather conditions
6) Ask who won or will win an NFL game
7) Ask about the stocks and markets
8) Navigate to a certain location
9) Ask any info-based question, like “Which country has the world’s largest GDP?”
10) Ask Cortana to solve a math equation
So far, only a limited number of queries are available. Expect Microsoft to add hundreds of more queries by the time Windows 10 releases next summer.
Even with the current beta, Cortana will say things like, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this for you right now. Check back again after future updates.” When you ask her about simple requests like setting a calendar appointment or navigating to a certain location.
Oh well, it’s early.
No Connection Between Windows 10 Cortana and Windows Phone Cortana
Here’s another sign that Windows 10 still has a long ways to go before it’s complete: Windows 10 Cortana and Windows Phone Cortana cannot talk to one another – at least not yet.
So if you’re a Windows Phone user who eagerly downloaded the latest Windows 10 beta update, then you may be disappointed.
Microsoft claims that eventually the two Cortanas will be seamlessly united and share information back and forth – kind of like Google Now does with Android. But for now, it’s still an early beta release that leaves us hopeful for Cortana’s future as a legitimate virtual voice assistant on PC.