Operating system

Published on October 3rd, 2015 | by Guest


Should You Give Windows 10 Virtual Personal Assistant a Chance?

The latest version of the popular Microsoft Windows operating system includes a very interesting feature. Cortana is a virtual personal assistant that is similar to Siri on Apple iOS and Google Now on Android. There are several reasons why you should give it a try, and here are the most important ones:

Working with Cortana

Cortana is integrated with the Windows 10 search feature. It is inspired by an artificial intelligence (AI) character from the popular Halo video game franchise, which is the flagship of the Microsoft Xbox console system. Cortana’s synthesized speech is female, thereby making it easy for everyone to refer to her as a “she.”

As a clever personal assistant, Cortana specializes in natural language processing (NLP), which means that she can understand voice commands and articulate spoken replies. Cortana is able to remember and learn as she interacts with users; this is an advanced characteristic carried over from the Windows XP operating system, whereby the XP stands for “experience.”

Given the history of intelligent agents developed by Microsoft, some users may be skeptical, intimidated or put off by Cortana; perhaps they see her as modern annoyance similar to the old Clippy from old versions of Microsoft Office. Cortana is nothing like Clippy; she is a powerful and useful software feature that is very easy to use.

Within Windows 10, Cortana can be summoned from just about any place. Her original home is in the new search box located next to the traditional Windows Start button. Users can simply say “Hey Cortana” if they have enabled this setting; otherwise, typing a search query or clicking the microphone icon and issuing a verbal command can also be used to activate Cortana.

Cortana’s Functions and Abilities

Cortana is a part of Windows Ease of Access tools and its primary function is to search for files and respond to queries. She can search locally, on the Internet, across synchronized mobile devices, on Microsoft’s OneDrive, and even on Dropbox and Google Drive if they are configured to mirror a Windows 10 desktop.

Cortana can also handle computing tasks such as opening and closing apps, changing the size and position of windows, sending emails, setting calendar items with reminders, solving mathematical calculations, performing currency and measurement conversions, giving directions, looking up the weather, reading the news, and even telling jokes.

Cortana’s Experiential Learning Functions

Over time, Cortana gets better at her job by means of learning. Cortana remembers facts she has looked up on email and social media accounts, and she retains everything she experiences. From time to time, Cortana will ask for clarifications from users; this is a sign that she is getting smarter.

Cortana keeps a Notebook with sketches and information she can quickly locate and study; this Notebook can be accessed and modified by users for the purpose of improving their Windows 10 experience. Cortana is able to keep separate Notebooks for computers that are used by various users.

Cortana’s Drawbacks and Shortcomings

Although Cortana has been around since Windows 8.1, she is still under development and has room for improvement. She is as good as or even better than competitors Siri and Google Now, but she also has some drawbacks.

As expected, Cortana integrates perfectly with Microsoft products but not as perfectly with others. There are some workarounds in this regard; for example, there’s already a Cortana extension for Google Chrome.

It may be too early to expect a multilingual and cosmopolitan Cortana; at this time, she is decidedly North American; nonetheless, Microsoft has major plans to develop regional and multilingual versions of Cortana so that she becomes a global virtual assistant.

In the end, Cortana is definitely a welcome addition to the Windows family, and she is very likely to get better. Tech analysts are already choosing Cortana over Google Now and Siri, and she is just getting started. The current drawbacks are no match for the sheer number of useful features, and Microsoft has big plans for the future, particularly in the areas of natural language processing and app integration.

It is almost inevitable that Cortana will continue to prefer working with Microsoft products, and this is through no fault of her own. As Microsoft invites more third-party developers to work on Cortana projects, users will reap the benefits. For the time being, giving Cortana a chance is a worthwhile and pleasant experience.


About the author:

Gabriel is a tech enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experience. You can reach him @Gabemich1337.

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