Microsoft is tweaking how Cortana works in Windows 10. While the digital assistant might be disappearing from the Xbox One, Microsoft is testing a new chat-based UI for Cortana on Windows 10 PCs. The new beta app, which was originally spotted last month, is now available to testers, and it supports text and voice queries.
It’s designed to be more conversational, and it’s a big part of Microsoft’s new focus for Cortana. Microsoft is separating its digital assistant away from the built-in Windows 10 search experience, and focusing on business users in the process. This new Cortana app for Windows 10 supports most existing features, including queries, assistant conversations, opening apps, managing lists, and basics like setting reminders, alarms, and timers.
“Not all the features from the previous Cortana experience are available just yet,” explains Dona Sarkar, Microsoft’s Windows Insider chief. “As a Beta, we plan to add more features over time with updates to Cortana from the Microsoft Store.”
This Cortana app is available in the latest Fast Ring preview of Windows 10, build 18945. It will eventually debut to all Windows 10 users in the first half of 2020. Microsoft has also tweaked Cortana so that “Hey, Cortana” is less intrusive, and the assistant now supports both light and dark themes on Windows 10. Performance should also be “significantly improved,” thanks to new speech and language models.
Alongside the Cortana changes, this Windows 10 test build also includes Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) improvements. You’ll now be able to connect to WSL 2 Linux networking applications using localhost, which means developers will be able to host servers and access them through a browser locally.