Windows 10 marks a real breakthrough in Microsoft's history, but the innovations made to the system do not stop at its interface or its ergonomics. Far from it, even. Proof of this, it also comes with Cortana, a smart personal assistant. Thanks to it, you will be able to communicate with your computer and control it… by voice.
If this name reminds you of anything, that's perfectly normal because Cortana was presented during the Build conference held in April 2014 and she got her start with Windows Phone 8.1.
Cortana was created to make life easier for users. If the assistant will be able to manage their calendar and their reminders, she will also be able to search the internet and answer all their questions.
Better, it will even be able to anticipate their expectations by forwarding certain information according to various criteria such as calendar appointments or even the location of the terminal.
Cortana is accessible through the search box to the right of the “start” button. You just have to click in the area to display its function panel.
On the first launch, it will tell you what it can do for you and then ask you to accept the associated confidentiality agreement. Then all you have to do is give him your first name to break the ice and start getting to know each other.
The only thing you will need, ultimately, is a Microsoft account. All the data related to the tool will be effectively synchronized on your various terminals.
When everything is in order, Cortana will return you to her Home screen. It will bring up all the information likely to interest you, through several widgets.
It will be able to display the weather forecast for the day, the next appointments of the day, the value of your shares, the birthdays of your friends or even the latest news published by your favorite sites.
Cortana is a personal assistant and she will adapt to your every whim. It also means that she will need to know you in order to meet your expectations as much as possible.
All your data is stored in a virtual notebook. It is accessible from the assistant panel and it gives control of all the information associated with your account.
For example, it will allow you to change your name or configure your favorite places. Like your home, for example, or even your office address. If necessary, you can also connect your Office 365 account.
Further down, you will find an area dedicated to your areas of interest. It has seven different themes: news, food and drink, advice, finances, weather forecast, meetings and reminders, then, finally, getting around.
These themes refer to the widgets mentioned above and they will allow you to modify their behavior.
News, for example, will give you the opportunity to define your interests. If you want to follow the value of certain stocks, just go to the section on finances. The weather forecast will allow you to add one or more cities to your tracking.
If certain widgets do not interest you, it will be entirely possible to deactivate them by pressing the associated option.
Also in this panel, you will also find a button that will direct you to the list of your reminders. There, you can filter them according to time, place or associated person.
If you want to go further, then all you have to do is open Cortana's panel, go to the notebook and type (or click) on the button dedicated to settings.
Windows 10 will then display a list of all the advanced options relating to the assistant.
The first will allow you to activate or deactivate the tool. Be careful, because the associated data will not be deleted and it is written in black on white under the button. If the user wants to clean their account, they will need to click on the “manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud” link. It will then be returned to the Bing settings page.
Microsoft has developed a speech recognition function. If you activate the second option, then just say the key phrase “Hey Cortana” to wake up the assistant. Want to go further ? No problem, you can also configure it to recognize only your voice.
There, on the other hand, it will be necessary to follow an assistant so that it learns to recognize you. All you have to do is find a quiet place and repeat six sentences.
Be careful, however, because this voice recognition function consumes a lot of energy.
The last two options will allow you to enable detection of tracking information in emails and let (or not) Cortana show up in the search box. If you activate it, then your assistant will activate from time to time to give you useful information related to the widgets mentioned above.
A few commands to get you started
I had published an article dedicated to voice commands supported by Cortana last April . If you haven't read it, then here is the list of the most useful instructions:
- Enable / Disable WiFi: To enable or disable WiFi.
- Activate / deactivate Bluetooth: To activate or deactivate Bluetooth.
- Activate / deactivate airplane mode: To activate or deactivate airplane mode.
- Show my alarms: Show all recorded alarms.
- Remind me to…: Create a new reminder.
- Displays my appointments: Displays the appointments of the day.
- Create an appointment: Create a new appointment.
- Launch Spotify: Launch Spotify or any other application.
- Guide me to Paris: Displays the route to Paris.
- Show me the restaurants around
- Cancel: Cancels the last order placed.
I must probably forget some of them. If you know of others, do not hesitate to leave a small comment at the end of the article.