Cortana Beta arrives in Microsoft Store to enable more frequent updates

What you need to know

  • The new Cortana beta app has appeared on the Microsoft Store.
  • The move to the Microsoft Store should break Cortana's dependence on new Windows 10 updates, allowing it to update with new features more frequently.
  • The new beta experience was first spotted hidden in a recent 20H1 Insider build.

Microsoft is gearing up to break Cortana's shackles, allowing it to be updated more frequently without relying on new Windows 10 releases. A new Cortana Beta app (via Aggiornamenti Lumia) is now available on the Microsoft Store, and it looks set to deliver the updated experience that was recently discovered hidden in a Windows 10 20H1 Insider build.

The basic features of the app remain the same as we've become familiar with over the course of Cortana's life on Windows 10. From the Microsoft Store's description:

Save time and stay organized—Cortana helps handle day-to-day tasks so you can stay on top of what matters most.Cortana can support you by giving you reminders, keeping your to-do lists, and helping you set timers and alarms. Cortana can also give you quick answers to the questions you ask.As an intelligent assistant, Cortana will find all kinds of info, give you weather and traffic updates, and help you search the web. But Cortana will also get to know you better all the time. Cortana will help track and find the things you're passionate about, like your favorite artists or sports teams, to give you better recommendations and updates.

Microsoft has been gradually working on breaking Cortana out from the system for some time. Most recently, we saw the fruits of this effort in the Windows 10 May 2019 Upadte, which split the Cortana interface from the search bar. Going forward, Microsoft is working on doubling down on Cortana's features, starting with a new, more conversational experience. Being able to ship updates via the Microsoft Store, as opposed to waiting to roll out changes with each major Windows 10 update, will allow the team to more quickly iterate with new features.

Right now, opening the app simply greets you with a message that reads, "Hi, thanks for taking an interest!" Presumably, we'll see Microsoft expand on its testing plans for the Cortana Beta before too long, possibly in an upcoming Insider build.

See at Microsoft

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl