Microsoft Blocks Third-Party Search Hacks in Cortana for Windows 10

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Microsoft Blocks Third-Party Search Hacks in Cortana for Windows 10

Microsoft has closed a technical loophole that allowed third party search providers to override how Cortana works in Windows 10. The change ensures that Cortana works as always intended, and doesn’t impact search engine configuration in web browsers.

“Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana,” Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin explains. “The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can’t depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser. The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing – all designed to do more for you.”

The change happens in the cloud and won’t require a Windows Update install on your PC, Microsoft told me.

Back in August 2015, I wrote about how a Firefox updated added the ability to circumvent Cortana’s intended behavior and let you use your browser’s default search engine—say, Google—as the search engine in Cortana too. But Microsoft tells me Firefox wasn’t the only culprit, and that several search providers were delivering workarounds as well.

Microsoft also reminds that this change does not impact how your web browser works. If you’re using Edge or any other browser, you can still configure your favorite search engine as the default, as before. This change impacts only Cortana.

The timing isn’t accidental: As Cortana evolves, Microsoft is continuing to push forward with new end-to-end personal search experiences, and these experiences are the ones that fall apart when the user changes the search engine used by Cortana. Microsoft explained that a coming Cortana update will let you search for concert tickets and then use Bing to find the best tickets according to your preferences and then purchase them. A coming election-oriented update will help you find dynamic reading lists with the latest election news as well.

“Our promise to you is that Windows 10 will provide you with great search results and a personalized, reliable search experience through Cortana and Microsoft Edge,” Mr. Gavin continues. “We will continue to work hard to provide you with the amazing experience you expect from Windows, while keeping you in control and helping you do great things.”


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