If you recently picked up a new Windows 10 device or performed a clean install of the OS, you were probably greeted by Cortana during the setup experience. Microsoft integrated Cortana into the Windows 10 setup experience to improve ease of access and although the feature may be useful to some, it has mostly annoyed the rest of us.
When you start setting up Windows 10, Cortana will talk you through the setup experience with its loud voice. That’s fine if you are in the United States, but in the UK, some parts of Cortana’s voice is computer generated so it just feels really weird and awkward. In the upcoming Windows 10 19H1 release, Microsoft is silencing Cortana’s voice by default so you won’t have to hear it everytime you set up a new computer.
Silencing Cortana doesn’t actually get rid of it. It’s still there. This means when it’s talking, you won’t be able to skip parts of the setup experience. Instead, you will have to wait for it to finish talking instead of being able to just skip a certain part. It makes the setup experience unnecessarily long and annoying. Look, I know it’s just a few seconds but it really does get quite annoying.
And let’s be honest, the Windows 10 setup experience itself isn’t particularly well designed. There are way too many different screens, especially since Microsoft started detailing the privacy-related settings in their standalone, separate screens. The setup experience takes too long to complete, and regular consumers just want to use their new computer instead of having to go through all of this. Combined with Cortana, the experience gets frustrating.
The point here is that Microsoft really needs to learn to streamline the Windows 10 setup experience going forward. Silencing Cortana is a good first step, but more needs to be done. That will involve getting rid of Cortana (or at least making it completely optional), and then moving to other features. Take this iOS feature for example:
This option pops up on an iPhone when it’s near a brand new iPad/iPhone that’s being set up. When you start setting up the new device, it asks you whether you want to carry over the data from your other, existing devices — and you can then transfer the content from your existing device and use it to set up your new iPhone or iPad. This makes the first run experience of the device so much easier — it automatically connects to your WiFi, for example, downloads all of the apps you have downloaded from the app store, etc.
Microsoft could do the exact same thing here — for example, if you have an older Windows 10 laptop next to your new Windows 10 device, you can simply carry over the data like the WiFi credentials, your privacy preferences, apps you have downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and maybe even providing a secure way of automatically logging into your Microsoft account to help you get started with your new device much faster.
Moral of the story: Windows 10’s setup experience is inconvenient and incomplete. Plus, Cortana really doesn’t have to be on the Windows 10 experience. There are much better ways of improving the experience and its ease of access for all users, and Cortana certainly is not one.