Presently, you can discover traces of Cortana in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Beyond that, recent leaks show an early desktop version of Cortana in action. Let’s see where Cortana is hiding out.
Who Is Cortana?
On Windows Phone 8.1, where she made her first appearance outside the game, Cortana is very much alive, supporting hands free control of the phone’s many features. While some tasks might not require voice control when you have access to a mouse and keyboard, Cortana will be a welcome desktop feature nevertheless.
Cortana Comes Up With Search
Built to turn voice generated queries into actions, Cortana is able to do anything from searching Bing (or maybe Google if you ask nicely) or giving you weather updates, to managing your calendar and personal contacts or telling you how your team will play next week. For these services, Cortana depends on powerful search algorithms. In other words, it makes sense that she would show up along with the Windows Search app.
When you launch the Search app in Windows 10 TP by clicking the Search icon in the Taskbar, you’ll see a Background process called Cortana Dss WinRT OOP Server in the Task Manager.
At this point, no functionality appears to be attached to this process.
Source: Tayfelix via Reddit
Cortana Audio Files Extracted
When you go to C:\Program Files\WindowsApps you’ll see more clues for Cortana in Windows 10.
To gain access to that folder, you need to add your Windows user name as Owner, as outlined on SuperUser.
Using Resource Hacker, one Reddit user extracted all Cortana audio files from the cortanaspeechuxres.dll in one of these Cortana app folders. All he got, however, were Cortana sound effects we already know from Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Search.
Source: UncleQuentin via Reddit
Cortana Appears In Build 9879
When Build 9860 was released, I noticed a new zPC Settings app under All Apps, a hint that Microsoft is gradually moving Control Panel items to this modern app.
When you go to zPC Settings in Build 9879 and check under Privacy, you’ll find an entry called Cortana and search. At this point, there’s not much to do here. As of writing this article, the Bing.com personalization link appears to be dead.
What’s interesting though, is that Windows Search receives access to the Microphone, as you can see under zPC Settings > Privacy > Microphone, as well as under the same path in the regular Settings app.
Source: alone_yet_strong via Reddit
Cortana Desktop Demo
Just a few days ago, WinBeta released a Cortana desktop demo:
As Zac of WinBeta points out, the demo isn’t fully functional, yet. The Cortana demo had the same key features as the Windows Phone version, i.e. set reminders, add calendar events, call people, check location or maps, launch apps, check the weather, and more.
Since she doesn’t chit chat on the desktop demo, Cortana’s humor remains a Windows Phone exclusive . Moreover, some features, like adding events to the calendar, are not fully implemented, thus producing errors. Finally, activating Cortana in the demo isn’t a hands free affair.
WinBeta didn’t specify which Windows 10 Technical Preview Build their Cortana pre-release was demoed on. That said, we can expect to see her make an appearance in an upcoming build. Microsoft has announced that a new Windows 10 Technical Preview build will be released at the end of January 2015.
Meanwhile, Neowin released an image gallery providing an early look at Cortana.
Will Cortana Be A Game Changer?
Until you can get your hands on Cortana in Windows 10, how about playing with her on a Windows Phone 8.1 device near you? If you don’t have access to Windows Phone 8.1, you can get a passive preview on the Windows Phone Cortana How To pages, where Microsoft offers Cortana tutorials and outlines recent feature additions. For example, you’ll find that Cortana can flip a coin or roll the dice, predict current events (Cortana predicted Germany’s soccer World Cup victory), recite Football schedules, scores, and standings, and much more.
Once you’ve had a chance to see what Cortana can do, maybe you’ll have a better idea of how vital she could be to the success of Windows 10. In a recent article, we already found that Microsoft is leading in the artificial intelligence race.
What do you think? Are you in need of a personal assistant and will Cortana get the job?