Windows 10 has been out for a while, and, according to Microsoft, it is now running on over 200 million devices worldwide. That is quite a huge number, and it seems that their strategy of giving it away for free has been working wonders. However, many people seem to not take full advantage of all the new features Windows 10 has to offer, such as the feature we’ll be focusing on today, Cortana.
What is Cortana?
Cortana is a digital assistant, which can help you in many ways. In other words, it is the Windows counterpart of Apple’s Siri. The name of the assistant comes from the video game series Halo, in which Cortana is an AI. The name isn’t the only thing that is shared, though: the Windows 10 assistant has the same voice actor, Jen Taylor. Initially launched for Windows Mobile, it made its way to desktop PCs and laptops with the release of Windows 10, and has quickly become popular. It can do the basic things you expect a digital assistant to do, such as set reminders for you, check the weather, and other such activities. However, if you know how to properly use it, you can make it do some really impressive things.
An assistant with personality
Unlike Siri, which took a while to build up her sassy personality, Cortana comes that way out of the box. Not only can it tell you some pretty good jokes, but it can also sing songs, tell you her opinions on previous Microsoft leaders or her rival, Siri. This gives her a whole new image, making her feel like a real person designed to help you out at all times. Also, if you’re a gamer, you can ask her questions about Master Chief and she will answer them, thus tying her to her Halo counterpart.
A useful home screen
As soon as you open Cortana, you are greeted with an amazing home screen, which contains a lot of great info on how to use the basic functions of your new digital assistant. Additionally, if you scroll down, you will see the top news for the day and the weather for your location. Given that you can do this instantly, it is a great feature if you ever need to take a quick peek at the weather. From this home screen, you can use Cortana both by typing whatever you want her to register, and by voice, which is another great feature, which works fairly well.
Like most other digital assistants out there, Cortana has her own way of keeping track of your hobbies and interests. It does this through her “notebook”, which is a section you too can access and see what she remembers about you. While at first her notebook will be blank, she will start filling it with details about you as you talk to her. However, if you feel like there are some details she should know right away, you can add them manually, by clicking the first button under the default home one on Cortana’s sidebar. This way, you can also delete certain details she may have chosen to remember.
E-mails and searching
Cortana can save you a lot of time with these two built-in features: she can write e-mails as you dictate them, as long as you have your e-mail account(s) hooked up, and she can search files in your computer and OneDrive with more precision than ever before. For the e-mail writing feature, you only need to tell her the person you want to email, narrate the contents of your email, and send it. This means you can now write and send e-mails without even touching your keyboard.
As for the searching feature, Cortana is way better than previous Windows search features, being able to follow very specific instructions, such as “find documents I’ve worked on in the past week”.
Multitasking and Syncing
The final two great features of Cortana in this article (she has many, many more available) are multitasking and syncing. Because Cortana can be voice-controlled, it listens to what you’re saying and performs the tasks you give her without taking the focus from the window you’re working in. This is very helpful, as it means that you can perform multiple tasks at once. As for syncing, Cortana keeps track of your set reminders over all your Cortana-enabled devices, and alerts you on all of them.
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