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Here's a deeper look at how Cortana works on a Windows 10 PC

Microsoft officially added Cortana, its digital assistant, in the current 9926 PC preview build of Windows 10 a few weeks ago. Today, Microsoft showed how Cortana works within Windows 10 in a new and lengthy video that's hosted and narrated by Marcus Ash, the company's Group Program Manager for Cortana and Search.

Ash says that while Cortana can be used on Windows Phone devices for "snackable" interactive help, using it on a Windows 10 PC involves longer periods of productivity. Ash uses the example of working at his desk for a few hours, but then asking Cortana to send a quick reminder email to his wife while he stays on task. In addition, Cortana can learn and even anticipate a user's needs on a PC, such as a friendly note of an upcoming appointment.

Ash also wrote a blog post that includes much of what he stated in the video, along with providing some additional hints about what features might be added to Cortana in the future. He stated:

"What else is coming? We're looking forward to helping people achieve productivity in communal scenarios. For example, you may have several PCs at home, and you're all sharing and storing music with each other. We want Cortana to help you easily find the music you want and play it from any of the devices, throughout your home, across PCs, phones, tablets and speakers, in a group setting. More to come on that very soon."

Source: Microsoft

67 Comments
  • Yeah this is going to be awesome.
  • I hope they improve her dramatically before release, because honestly, the version in 9926 isn't even as good as the version in the phone. I'd also like to see them offer a bluetooth 4.0 battery powered kick ass microphone that you could pare with a computer and wear on a shirt lapel or something for easy and reliable communication with Cortana, as a lot of PC's (including, unfortunately, Surface Pro 3) have fairly mediocre mics built in. But beyond that, I also want to see Cortana come to Xbox One, and for her to be a singular experience that knows and can interact with ALL of my Windows devices FROM any of my windows devices. I should be able to issue Xbox commands from my phone or PC, PC commands from my phone or Xbox, and phone commands from my Xbox or PC. The big integration I really want to see with Windows 10 and Phones is the iPhone/Mac like ability to take calls on my PC or even Xbox One.
  • ""Going to be awesome"".... Exactly, because right now it needs serious work. It's extremely unresponsive, and most of the time it has audio, but no visuals....
    ......
    One thing to think about is that phones have very good capabilities to hear voice, and most tablets, and laptops, have basic microphones for audio capture.. So, until they start putting better mics on machines its probably best to get a little USB microphone so that Cortana can hear properly.... I won't blame MS for unresponsiveness until I'm sure it's not a hardware issue.
  • Give us the damn build now :D
  • in the video is the 9924 fbl_cortana, you have to wait for the 1002x build for the same stuff.
  • These features should also be included in wp10
  • great
  • I'm thinking whole home integration. Have a USB audio interface wired up to microphones in every room. Cortana runs on a central PC in the basement and responds to the interactions regardless of where you are in the house. From the kitchen set a reminder to pick up milk at the grocery store. In the living room start watching tv or listening to music. Set a wakeup alarm from the bedroom. All of these things are already available, and so much more could be done (remote start my car, turn on the sprinklers, feed the dog...). The integrator inside me is getting excited!
  • Would be a nice way to use a cheap Raspberry Pi.
  • Or raspberry pi 2 running windows 10 mounted on the fridge, u could even let it know if ur adding or taking away from the fridge, and even starts giving suggestions after a while of what to grab at the store or out the fridge
  • YES! Also, by knowing your inventory you can ask for meal suggestions and she can load up a recipe for you. Have a display in the kitchen and get a video of Alton Brown cooking that meal. She could track food consumption for dieters, get best prices for the grocery list and suggest which store to go to... A lot of possibilities! (I've been thinking about this a lot lately :) )
  •   Even Better hock up phone cortana to PC, you command Cortana in PC through your phone, using home wifi network. No need of wiring up home with Mics. ;)
  • That would be a nice idea. But, that would leave a couple of issues that could be good or bad for Microsoft. First, not everyone will have a WP, unfortunately. So, they will either have to make Cortona cross platform or, as one reader suggested, create an outstanding MIC or headset that Cortona allows you to interact with her, no matter where you are in the house or office. An earpiece would be ideal, because you can talk and hear her response, if you aren't right in front of your computer. I don't know how well Bluetooth would work, because it is typically does not have the range you will need to have that true freedom in your home. It would likely have to connect some other way. I haven't bought a wireless house phone in a while, but whatever high end band they use might be ideal. Just a thought.
  • The movie 'Her'
  • Well, just a tiny error, and your garage gate is gone.
  • I have been spending some time on this..  With HomeGenie and the google voice api.  But, sending audio back to a cortana host to do the processing and then either respond or make api calls to the home management system would be very cool..  Also, there are starting to be better options for getting the io where it is needed... http://lightfreq.com/   What we really need is a wifi bulb with the same features and a api to stream to and from it with.. 
  • the best thing about this video for me was the glimse of music app for windows 10 for phones at 2:23......just love that UI !!
  • Looks great :)
  • I love that music controls are always visible at the bottom of the app and that they ditched the circles around play/pause and skipping buttons, new icons are gorgeous too.
    Notice how you can filter music (all,a-z) and there's and expanding arrow for more options :)
    Artist, albums and songs are now apparently inside a hamburger menu so lets see how navigation works out now :)
  • Cortana is just shit
  • You're not in the US.
  • And? Siri and Google Now can be enabled anywhere outside of the US without any region and os language changing. So yeah it's still shit next to the other two.
  • I laughed so hard about your comment. Obviously you value Shit in your country. Here we often use it to fertilize plants to grow into food... So I guess in your rather lengthy and intelligent post that yeah in your way it is shit... And good shit at that... Pass me some of that shit...
  • Cortana where is my girlfriend?
  • Forever Alone.. :P
  • Cortana: You don't want to know.
    :-o
  • Son with the 1002x Build, the Cortana is getting updated.?
  • GREAT......now fix tablet mode interaction with Cortana and the Taskbar - its a mess, bordering on un-usable on small tablets (Dell Venue 8 Pro).  It works great with keyboard connected, but when the on-screen keyboard pops up,  it just doesnt work at all.
  • Wow, just really impressed with Cortana and the future use. I use Cortana for reminders and music, but mainly in the car for a true hands free experience, which is awesome. But looking forward to Cortana on my SP3 as well. Loved the insight from this video. Thank you for sharing ;-)
  • If it really works for the Window 10 desktop OS - people will want it seemless with their phone, tablet, watch, next item .... WP future looks bright!
  • Ash uses the example of working at his desk for a few hours, but then asking Cortana to send a quick reminder email to his wife while he stays on task.
    You know what's stupid? That he actually doesn't stay on task, becase Cortana has to be in the foreground to function.
  • I want a Laptop like that which is in the video
  • Ah you mean the Surface Pro. I think you can buy them. EBay, Amazon, bestbuy, etc. Just not at the App$e store.
  • No watch at 3:44
  • Does ANYONE know where to get that awesome wallpaper???
  • Someone please!
  • There are like 5 or 6 different wallpapers in the video...
  • I'm using Windows 10TP and I set up a reminder using Cortana last weekend. I was hoping that the reminder would sync and show up on my Windows Phone but it didn't. I submitted that request for functionality on the Windows 10 Feedback feature. If I'm not mistaken, I think Yosimite and iOS8 has that capability. Unless someone know if I'm missing something. It would be a nice feature to have from Microsoft and maintain feature parity with the Apple.  
  • You dont have Windows 10 on your phone. When you do the integration will be there.
  • At 2:38 he said "This system will never be any good..."  I stopped the video after that...   :D
  • Seems like we got a early look at the one drive music locker app too. Which is in the works too from the user voice updateand with 100gigs free for 2 years, alot of people will people uploading there colletion to one drive. Whcih would be nice to have access and cortana ability to seapk songs.
  • Well Cortana may be Great if you happen to live in the US, not so good for the rest of us.
  • I live in Canada which is not in the states and I use it. Just set the region to US. Soon I will be in more regions.
  • Scared of Cortana read http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2476476,00.asp
  • All that Samsung listening to you turned out to be wrong. By please believe everything you hear on the internet.. Like this... My friends iPhone 6 is running Windows 10... Believe it? Maybe Bing it to find out the truth... Or believe, its your call.
  • I've only had Hey Cortana work once thus far, hopefully that'll get polished up.
  • Would be great if Cortana could complete some simple script-like tasks. Maybe more like the Star Trek "computer". The scripts available would continue to grow.
  • +10 This is what I want.
  • I wish I could say "Cortana, start Guild Wars 2" and like that, it would open. ;)
  • It can't be that far away Xbox dose it now with Kinect only a matter of time
  • Hey Cortana, open my last Excel file works so I guess if you ask it right... It actually knows what apps and programs you have on your computer.
  • "We think the phone is more about snackable interaction moments during the day"   Im not sure what different world this guy lives in, but we use our phones more than our desktops by far. Culture has transitioned to mobile in vast numbers.Even though its not as productive, we all use our phones to email, browse and ultimately to get us through the day. It's there when we sleep at night and it's there when we wake up, our productivity depends upon it. The desktop and phone need equal focus. The phone should be an extension of the power of the desktop, not a "snack".  
  • I think you misunderstood what he was saying when he mentioned snackable it was more to the idea people normally don't sit on their phone for hours at a time 5mins here and there all day but when you sit on a desktop/surface/laptop you will stay there for awhile getting things done so Cortana will be super useful in that respect
  • Most people who have white collar jobs in the world spend at least 8 hours per day on a PC and/or laptop. The world has not changed as much as the people who are selling mobile devices would have you believe.
  • So...HomeGroup?
  •  I feel the Cortona team is the only team in MS to do things right. Everything else is 5 steps behind Google or 2 steps behind Apple.  Cortona is their only idea that they carried out fully and it works and they arent giving up on it. I seriously feel that MS is ran by several different divisions in several different countries and no one talks to each other.
  • Hummm... Yup your right, Hololens is way behind App$es... Oh wait they don't have one... Or yeah the Surface Pro is way behind App$es touch screen Mac.. Of wait foiled again... Hummmm how about the Surface Hub... Well Samsung has a touch 55" display but you can't connect an iPhone or Windows phone to it... Only android phones... And its not realm a computer so your post is right on the mark... Oh wait off the mark.
  • Anyways.. So far I have Windows 10 running on three systems of various manufacture. A Samsung Laptop, Surface Pro 2 and a Acer two in one low budget machine. Runs sweet on all three and Cortana works well with all three mics. Awesome. Can't wait for Windows Phone 10 to tie it all together.
  • Ahh, everyone! Big update today! Cortana finally reads the time and all responses!!!
  • Didn't someone mention that videos for Win 10 on phones and desktop are gonna go up at about the same time?
  • I want to Halo version of Cortana. Anybody thinking of getting image source and replacing it with rendered Halo Cortana?
  • Once 10 is out for at least a year or two, someone will find out (or create) a way to do it. Just you wait.
  • *the
  • To all those amazing integration ideas around I just have to make you a question: How you suggest a reliable solution to all the people how "doesn't wants that all they say can be heard"??? because all those applications needs at least passive listening. I'm not one of those, anyway they spy on me.
  • I already have the developer preview and Cortan works awesome. 
  • The developer preview hasn't even been mentioned by anyone at Microsoft. You have the Technical Preview, just like the rest of us. Build 9926. But she's working rather well for me too. Way better than she did in my first days with the new build.
  • Neat trick: If you ask Cortana the same question that Joe Belfiore did the first time Cortana ran on a PC, you'll be able to get the same response out of her. Animation included.
    For those who don't remember, her first question was "How does it feel to be on a PC?"