The Win10 Experience – Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, and seems to rely a bit too heavily on its roots as a phone application. When you search the web for information on Cortana capabilities, you usually get Windows Phone 8.1 answers, not Win10 info – even of you specify Win10 in the search.
What Cortana does:
It seems to be a phenomenally got voice recognition tool. In testing it, Cortana was instantly good at understanding my voice. There is a text window that shows what it is interpreting, and it is fast and accurate.
What it doesn’t do well: much beyond opening applications and offering Bing search results.
You can set Cortana to look first on your local PC to satisfy your request. You can set Cortana to linger in the background and respond to questions that begin “Hey Cortana…” without requiring any mouse or keyboard action, although those are available by default. For example, while I am typing this, I say “Hey Cortana, when were you created?” It correctly interprets the words, as shown in its dialogue box, but answers “Consider this a polite dodge of the question.” Various other versions of this question can produce good results in the BING browser window, but I am unable to get Cortana to give a verbal reply. It’s worth noting that Cortana often just open an Edge browser window that is behind my full screen WORD window, and only a “burble” sound indicate that anything has happened. I was unable to get any sort of extended dialogue, so Turing can rest easy.
One thing I have found handy in Cortana – with Windows navigation a bit different form previous interfaces, Cortana is good for finding things that really should be easy to do but are not. With Microsoft reportedly planning to eliminate the Control Panel, it’s not easy to find (although many of the functions are available from the START menu) if you ask “Hey Cortana, open Control Panel,” it is there for you in an instant, or maybe two.
Cortana will not take oral notes (voice to text) in any application I can find. It does say “I cannot take notes now, check back later,” suggesting that capability may be in the development queue. It can open the Office apps, but not to any specific file – it generates the “most recent” list an leaves you at the mouse to select which one.
Conclusion: Cortana is an interesting, perhaps even exciting, speech recognition application, fast and accurate, but it does not have enough hooks into the application world to make more than an occasional toy. It may be effective in making intermittent notes to your calendar – “Hey Cortana, remind me to call John at 3PM.”