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  • Alexa and Cortana talking to each other….

    Posted on August 30th, 2017 at 07:32 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    … and why I don’t care.

    Here’s an overview from Paul Thurrott, if you’re interested.

    Microsoft’s sales pitch:

    Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s world knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana.

    I can envision some people, in some situations, wanting to use Cortana to get to Alexa. In very rare instances I can see using Alexa to get to Cortana. But for most people most of the time – and certainly for me – it’s a big meh.

    Cortana’s “world knowledge” doesn’t hold a candle to Google’s, as any seven-year-old can attest. As for calendar and location-based anything, Google’s way out ahead on those fronts, too.

    Microsoft’s losing the Augmented Reality wars. They’re losing the voice assistant wars. Personally, I use Alexa for home stuff and Google Assistant for everything else that’s voice-friendly. It works. And I don’t have to wait for 20-minute blackouts while my PC updates itself, or bob and weave through mediocre updates.

    Downright distressing for somebody who’s been with Windows since version 286.

    UPDATE: Great article from John Brandon in Computerworld:

    Cortana and Alexa can talk to each other, but it isn’t really a conversation or integration — simply a way for one bot to open the other. Yawn.

  • Does “killing” Cortana really kill Cortana?

    Posted on December 19th, 2016 at 20:25 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PKCano has been conducting some interesting experiments. Here are her results to date:

    PRE-TEST #1: I did what appeared to be a clean install. Since we are interested in disabling Cortana, I decided to do whatever the UI had to offer in that direction: Custom install turning off all the offered settings and choosing “Not now” at the “Meet Cortana” screen. Parallels Tools installed on the reboot. This gave me Build 14393.0. Cortana was not off by default as when I initially upgraded from 1511 back at the beginning of Aug.

    Cortana “O” appeared by default in the search box.

    cortana-01

    Cortana did not present a choice to use or not use in the search box popup menu. The notebook was present.

    cortana-02

    There were many choices in the search box settings menu.

    cortana-03

    cortana-04

    Cortana was a choice in the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-05

    There were two entries in the Task Manager that showed activity when I typed, “Cortana” and “Cortana Background Task Host.” DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were NOT present under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search. DWORD “AllowCortana” was NOT present under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Search. The keys “Windows Search” and “Search” were NOT present under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.

    cortana-06

    PRE-TEST #2: Cumulative Update KB3176495 –> Build 14393.51. Things basically looked the same, maybe a couple more options in the search box popup menu.

    Registry settings were the same.

    cortana-07

    cortana-08

    GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templets\Windows Components\Search had two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen,” both not configured. This is same as before

    cortana-09

    Now for the testing.

     

    TEST #1: GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templates\Windows Components\Search

    I set two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen” to “disabled”. Rebooted.

    Cortana “o” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-10

    The Cortana option disappears from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-11

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    Search box settings are greatly reduced.

    cortana-12

    I still have two Cortana entries in the Task Manager but I believe only the “Cortana” one is active when I type, not the “Cortana Background Task Host.”

    cortana-13

    In GPedit I returned the settings to “Not configured.” See this thread:

    https://www.askwoody.com/2016/win10-anniversary-update-bug-turns-into-turn-off-cortana-feature/

     

    TEST #2: Remember, the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” under HKCU are not present in this install.

    Under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows I created the key “Windows Search” (NOTE there is a space between) and the DWORD “AllowCortana” set to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-14

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-15

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    The search box settings are reduced to 2.

    cortana-16

    There is Cortana activity in Task Manager.

    cortana-17

    In each case, I am resetting whatever I changed before so I start from scratch.

    Recall that previously (see link to thread above) the key “Windows Search” under HKLM did not initially exist – I had to create it and the DWORD “AllowCortana”.

    Test #3: Under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were not present in this install. But when Cortana disappeared in the TP and in the early AU, those two DWORDs were present and the DWORD “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0.

    This time, I had to create those two DWORDs and I set both to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-18

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-19

    Cortana disappears from the search box popup.

    Search box settings are reduced.

    cortana-20

    There is STILL activity under Cortana in the Task Manager.

    cortana-21

    CONCLUSIONS:

    1. It was the settings under HKCU that caused Cortana to disappear in theTP and the AU initial releases. The other things were not present in those builds, but “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0 under HKCU.

    1. Enabling the “AllowCortana” in GPedit creates the “Windows Search” key under HKLM and sets the “AllowCortana” DWORD to 1. So basically these two things are equivalent.

    1.  Setting “BingSearchEnabled” (and maybe “CanCortanaBeEnabled”) to 0 underHKCU does the same thing. This may apply the disappearance of Cortana to an individual User as opposed to the entire computer which the GPedit settings probably do.

    1. None of these changes stop the activity of the Cortana processes in Task Manager.

    Want to REALLY squash Cortana?

    Open the Task Manager.

    Open C:\Windows\SystemApps

    Rename the folder “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy.”

    You have to stop the Cortana process in the Task Manager, b/c it’s using the folder.

    You have to be FAST FAST b/c the process restarts quickly.

    Reboot.

    The Cortana “O” still shows in the search box, but the search box is DEAD – you can’t type anything in it.

    Cortana still shows in the taskbar context menu, but the Cortana icon is also DEAD.

    Install Classic Shell and type in the search box. You get a “Microsoft Windows Search Indexer” process that shows activity.

    Don’t know what other effects this might have, but it does the job of killing the Cortana processes and removing them from the Task Manager apparently.

    cortana-22

     

    cortana-23

     

    cortana-24

    cortana-25

  • Dissecting the Cortana numbers

    Posted on December 14th, 2016 at 12:16 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Brad Sams has a great back-of-the-envelope analysis of Cortana’s penetration, on Thurrott.com (premium content). He drew on some obscure references ferreted out by @teroalhonen.

    Microsoft claims 145 million monthly active users. Brad takes the number apart, and shows – quite convincingly – that there’s less here than meets the eye. Just for starters, if you type into the Win10 Search box, bingo, there’s another hit for Cortana.

    Another excellent article from Thurrott Premium.

  • The hunt for Cortana

    Posted on November 5th, 2016 at 06:58 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    jabberwockI’d like your comments, insights and experiences on disabling Cortana.

    As best I can tell, all of Windows Search is run through Cortana (which is, itself, a front end to Bing).

    You can easily take Search off the taskbar (there’s a setting), but that doesn’t disable Cortana – in spite of what many, many people have written. PKCano noted weeks ago that Cortana continues in the Task Manager.

    So… any luck slaying the Jabberwock? What do you know?

    By the way… good background info in Paul Thurrott’s Aug. 31 article Ask Paul: Can I Turn Off Cortana in Windows 10 Version 1607?

  • Cortana should be dancing in the streets

    Posted on September 29th, 2016 at 13:46 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Qi Lu leaves, Cortana and Bing to Shum, Office and Pall’s Skype go to Jha: This morning saw a breathtaking push to put Cortana in the driver’s seat.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • How to turn Cortana off in Win10 beta build 14352?

    Posted on June 6th, 2016 at 15:41 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Yes, I see the “Stop getting to know me” switch in settings, but does that really turn Cortana off?

    The old setting (Notebook, Settings, turn Cortana off) isn’t there in the latest beta builds.

    Enlighten me, please…

  • Cortana now restricted to Edge and Bing: It’s the clicks, stupid

    Posted on April 29th, 2016 at 08:28 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Likely the #1 way for Microsoft to make money off Windows 10.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows.