In our previous article, we discussed some of the new features for those looking to make the switch to Windows 10. One of those features was a particularly interesting one – a virtual assistant for Windows. Now, virtual assistants aren’t a new concept – some cars provided such technologies with limited capabilities some time ago as a luxury feature, and more recent examples can be found in Google’s “Google Now”, as well as Apple’s “Siri.”
However, Cortana is the first fully integrated virtual assistant for the Windows platform, and she has a plethora of abilities that even some of the most advanced virtual assistants to date find it difficult to or are simply unable to follow.
First off, Cortana’s search capabilities are essentially unrivaled, given her ability to not only answer questions intuitively, perform searches for inquiries for which she cannot provide answers, and also getting directions and maps for locations. Beyond even this however, she can even perform more advanced functions such as searching for files by their content or creation date, or even being able to identify songs and lyrics in musical pieces.
In addition to this, Cortana can also perform more actions suitable to an assistant, with her ability to give reminders to her users based on time or location, set alarms, add events to the calendar, send emails, perform measurement conversions, and allow dictation with her voice recognition.
Most significantly, however, is Cortana’s ability to learn new things about her users over time, as well as her level of awareness in the operating system. She will proactively provide information that seems relevant to users, such as traffic conditions for a frequent commute, as well as weather conditions for oft-visited locations. She will provide news articles on topics, people, or places of interest based on previous searches or views as well. She knows how to launch programs on command, and she can even track flights or packages that her user has ordered, based on searches and the content of tracking or flight numbers.
Beside all this, Cortana’s got a personality. She can just chat with people, or provide clever responses to certain questions, tell jokes and stories, or even sing songs.
All in all, she’s probably one of the most unique and interesting additions to an iteration of Windows in a long time. Her level of integration with Windows’ services is very well thought out, and she is a very useful addition overall.