Virtual personal assistants and chatbots are all the rage these days. But while some of them, like Siri, Alexa, or even Cortana, are interesting and at times even useful, they aren’t exactly suited for all situations and all devices. And yet, that is the message that Microsoft is trying to get across by forcing Cortana on all Windows 10 users, whether they like to or not. Come August 2nd, when the Anniversary Update rolls out, users will no longer be able to disable Cortana like before, ensuring that she becomes the center of all your desktop, and online, searches.
In the past, those who have no interest in using Cortana on their desktops or even tablets, can simply opt for a very basic search bar that only scans files, folders, and apps. While Cortana can, of course, do those things, it also adds web searches, notes, reminders, and all those things you associate with a smart assistant.
To do most of those things, however, Cortana will need access to more than just your local files. She’ll need e-mails, phone numbers, calendars, and monitor your searches. That said, all of those are optional and you can pretty much choose which features you like to keep or even use Cortana anonymously, disconnecting her from your Microsoft account. Or, if you really want it, you can hide her from view. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Microsoft reminds us of this:
“With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the search box is now Cortana. Customers can expect the same great search experience powered by Bing and Microsoft Edge with the added benefit of Cortana’s personality.
We know consumers want choice and we make it easy to customize Cortana’s personalization or opt-out of Cortana’s suite of personalized services. Cortana works best when you sign in, but if you choose not to, you can still use her to chat, search the web and your Windows device. If you like, you can also easily hide Cortana and the search box in the taskbar altogether.”
So yes, there are workarounds available to at least hide or cripple Cortana, but that only dances around the issue that people are trying to raise. Microsoft is once again forcing its choices on users, in ways that users can’t get out of. It started with forced updates, blocking Cortana from using anything other than Microsoft Bing, and now making her mandatory, regardless of preference. And, yes, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is unavoidable as well.
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