Microsoft’s Looking to Move Cortana in Windows 10, New Conversation UI

Posted on June 9, 2017 by Brad Sams in Windows 10 with 44 Comments

About two years ago, when I first scooped that Microsoft was going to include Cortana as an integral part of Windows 10, at that time, I had been told that the digital assistant was going to live in the system tray. But, as we all know, Cortana currently lives on the taskbar but that may be about to change.

Part of the reason why it was moved to the taskbar is that it would put it closer to the Start button and improve discoverability. But, with it being on the taskbar, it also needed to have the option of being removed which is a problem for Microsoft.

The company loves to tell you that usage of Cortana is very high but the reality is that it’s not as rosy as it may seem. If you hit the Windows key and search, you are now a Cortana MAU (monthly active user); use edge and Cortana pops up in the URL bar, welcome to the MAU club. Further, many users are simply removing Cortana from the taskbar but to remediate this issue, Microsoft will move the digital assistant.

Cortana, like its original mockups, is currently being tested living inside the system tray. The company is placing it near the clock and action center icons and is also introducing a new UI that is conversation-like, according to sources familiar with the product.

The UI and features are in the early stages of development and if you ask Cortana a question, it will open on the right side of the screen from the taskbar. Further, it will prompt with smart reply suggestions like Google Allo for when you need to interact with the assistant.

As with ever early implementation of a new feature in Windows 10, this could be cut before being released and may change dramatically before arriving to Insiders. But, know that Microsoft is actively working on a new implementation of Cortana and it’s currently looking like the system tray will be the new home.

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (47)

47 responses to “Microsoft’s Looking to Move Cortana in Windows 10, New Conversation UI”

  1. Ian S.

    Simple fix, instead of the default search bar expanded, show the icon by default instead, less people will remove it.

  2. JerryH

    It would be better if they spent energy around making it actually useful. As it is, we had to disable it by group policy for all machines. It would just keep popping up over the lock screen saying the most ridiculous things like "tap and say, get directions to a nearby gas station" (but this is on a desktop PC with no GPS) or Tap and say "send an urgent email from my work account to Andrew". Almost anything you tried was a huge time sink rabbit hole. If you tried the email thing - it would try to make you sign in to Mail and Calendar (but you use Outlook with Exchange) and would ask for the name of your Exchange server (nobody knows that; it is automatic in Outlook) and ask for a password (but our users are Smart Card only. Nearly every last thing it offered to do wouldn't work either because they were phone oriented tasks or they didn't work with Outlook or wanted a password or wanted you to sign up for a music service. To prevent service desk calls (which adds up to $$) and to prevent user frustration with our Windows 10 deployment we had to just shut the damn thing off.

    Even at home - my daughter just two days ago asked me how to get rid of Cortana. She got tired of typing a search for an application into the start menu only to get some ridiculous web result instead of an installed app. I showed her how to use Group Policy Editor, so that's a plus.

  3. hrlngrv

    As long as I can hide like other tray icons, NBD. If I can't get rid of it, I may have to check out alternative desktop shells again.

  4. kevin rose

    if they moved it to the Trash Can that would be a huge step forward...

  5. dhallman

    I have been saying this for years, and recent developments seem to back up the idea; Cortana and Notification Center should merge.

    All communication in Windows should push through Cortana.

    New app install, email (and all app) notifications, calendar reminders/set reminders, virus and defender scans/reports, file searches, Internet searches + tracking, cross device alerts etc. etc. Cortana should be the 'voice/face' of Windows and the AI that assists with tasks.

    Why have system notifications seperate from Cortana notifications? Meging all of this cleans up so much real estate and simplifies so much to one location for ease of use.

    When you open Notifications you could have a search bar at the top, cortana ring below with link to notebook (new window), current notificatons next and the Action Center where it is.

  6. glenn8878

    All home PCs need mics to use them, but they aren't standard equipment. Smartphones have cameras, mics, speakers, biometrics (fingerprint reader). Everything to make a smartphone a personal assistant. Windows PC is still a do it yourself kit unless Microsoft steps up its game by requiring OEMs to provide such equipment. Alternatively, Microsoft accessories like a Kinect webcam can do it all, but it seems like they given up on it.

  7. Michael Rivers

    Sometimes, I don't realize at first that an article I'm reading on this site is by Brad Sams instead of Paul. Then I hit the first run-on sentence, and I hit the back button.

  8. SherlockHolmes

    In times like this I just love that I can use windows 10 Enterprise and dont have to worry about Cortana and stuff I dont want or use.

  9. Dave Lockwood

    Cortana has been the source of numerous calls to MS help. Might i add their support has been less than stellar as well. I erased Cortana because if I want to use Edge or Bing I'll know I've completely lost my mind. It doesn't even know how to tell me where things are located in windows 10. It dusts off MS Edge and opens Bing. I'll ask where to find connected devices and it'll open Bing

    • Jeffrey F. Craft (Compucraft)

      In reply to Dave Lockwood:

      Instead of doing all of that and going through all of that trouble, wouldn't it be a lot simpler to just cut her off? Or use her and just type in key words​ like "connected devices" in Cortana's Search box to get quick easy results with numerous choices? Just like you've always been able to with Windows 7 start menu search? And if you don't know how to use something that doesn't mean that it's not right it means that you haven't read or paid attention to anything involving what you're referring to. Such as it telling you during initial setup to use the icon in your start menu that says "More about Windows 10?" Or, depending on which one of the numerous places to look you choose;"How to use Windows 10?" With online video, the Microsoft website, or YouTube? Or just type in Cortana herself: how to "x=b"? And to keep in mind that Microsoft is one of the largest companies in the world and in any given time has thousands upon thousands of support issues going on? You know you can't​ always find good help these days especially if they're in India and you're not.

  10. waverunning.geek

    No. Just... NO.

    Do not move Cortana. Everyone knows search is on the left side of screen.

    Instead, make her more competitive with Google, Alexa, Siri, etc.

  11. rlcronin

    I can't stand Cortana. I will never use it. Stop shoving it down my throat.

  12. skane2600

    Am I the only one who believes that voice recognition systems don't add much value outside of mobile devices?

    • mebby

      In reply to skane2600: If it easy, fast and fluid on the desktop (and mics are built in) I would use it. For example, walk into a room and start interacting with your PC. This has been something that has been envision for 30+ years.
      If I sit at my desk for 8 hours at work, why can't I use voice recognition on my desktop?

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to skane2600: I guess it depends. I use voice control all the time. In fact, that is my preferred method, seconded by gesture (which Microsoft has all but done away with, the idiots).

    • kevin rose

      In reply to skane2600: TBH I don't even use voice recognition on a phone, its just too clunky. Its a marginal feature at best

      • Jeffrey F. Craft (Compucraft)

        IIn reply to kevin rose:

        I have absolutely positively no problem whatsoever with either Google or Windows system. I don't have an accent I speak and enunciate my words clearly and as a matter of fact I'm voice typing right now. I guess it depends on the user and their accent and the way they speak. But there is even a setting for that. More or less the user experience will vary from person to person of course, but it all hinges on how much a person pays attention to how they're setting their system up and how much research and step by step instructions and notifications they read. But as far as Windows goes, I will admit they don't have a very good step by step instruction on everything that's for sure. They leave it to you to explore and experiment and figure it out for yourself. I guess they don't realize that leaves a door open for people to hurl complaints and insults. If they were to send a PDF print out document with each copy of Windows 10 then it would be the blame of only the user. However it would be a heck of a lot of reading. I actually even use my Windows system to automate my home. All voice activated and since my accident I don't type very much so everything I do is pretty much thru voice.

  13. Michał Jakubowski (revanmj)

    I just wish they would detach things like notification sync from Cortana, so we could use it with Windows 10 in a language where Cortana is not supported (or allow Cortana to be enabled in such case, like Siri in iOS).

  14. Rob_Wade

    This must be something being worked internally. Cortana is still sitting in the same place it always was on the to the Start button. When I say, "Hey, Cortana", she opens full screen. So far, nothing new.

    • evox81

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      Assuming you didn't read the article, but it seems you didn't even manage to read the title of the article... "Microsoft's looking to move..."

      If it had said "Microsoft moves" or "Microsoft moved" that would give you reason to look elsewhere. As worded however, Cortana remaining in the same spot is the intended functionality.

  15. ChuckOp

    Sorry, I hate to be *that guy*, but the correct name is Taskbar Notification Area. The only place there was a "tray" was in Cairo design documents and very early beta versions of Windows 95 (Chicago).

    The term "tray" is confusing, because some people think that means the entire taskbar, while others think it's just the icons around the clock.

    The best source I can give on this is well-known Microsoft shell developer Raymond Chen, who wrote in his book, The Old New Thing:

    "Why do some people call the taskbar the 'tray'?":Short answer: because they're wrong. ... One of the most common errors is to refer to the taskbar notification area as the tray or the system tray. This has never been correct. If you find any documentation that refers to it as the tray, you've found a bug.
    "But why do you care? That's what everybody calls it now, may as well go with the flow."
    How would you like it if everybody started calling you by the wrong name?
    Summary: It is never correct to refer to the notification area as the tray. It has always been called the "notification area".
  16. Jeff Jones

    How about an option to replace it with third party options, such as the Google Assistant, or Alexa, or Siri. The Google Assistant is what I would prefer.

Leave a Reply