back to article Microsoft's Cortana turns its back on consumers as skills are stripped from Windows 10

Microsoft has jammed yet another knife into the consumer incarnation of its unloved electronic assistant, Cortana. As the release of Windows 10 20H1 (or 2004) looms, the company snuck out a blog late on Friday letting the dozen or so customers still using the thing know that "consumer skills including music, connected home and …

  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Productivity

    The emphasis, according to Microsoft, will be on "productivity."

    My productivity would be greatly enhanced if I didn't have to keep accommodating to changes & breakages with every Windows update.

    (and to forestall the obvious, I run Linux on systems where it's appropriate, like my desktops, but my company laptop is still W10)

    1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Re: Productivity

      Just this weekend we had an Office 365 update and all my settings got reset, again. Sick to my back teeth of having to adapt to Microsoft's incessant need to fiddle with menus and layouts. I run Win 10 but thanks to Classic Shell I can at least get rid of that godawful tile based Start Menu.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Productivity

        You can remove all the tiles from the start menu without using third party software.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re:Tiles

          "You can remove all the tiles from the start menu without using third party software."

          Exactly. So much consternation about a Microsoft design on El Reg that can be "fixed" with just some right-clicks. Tiles are your choice to use and arrange, or not to use at all.

          The taskbar has mini-tiles in a sense, and everyone has no frustration with those.

          IMHO Win10 Tiles just proves how resistant to change, of any type, so many users have become.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re:Tiles

            Oh, I was hoping the /Win10 apologist tag worked past my own posts... guess that's hoping too much, unless I can get my software "adopted" like Microsoft does, and then force change through...

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: Apologists

              Change. Heaven forbid!!

              Get the hell over it. Really. The world changes and things move on. Of all things, you're on a TECH JOURNAL and you're ranting against change! Why are people like you here, then?? Stick to your Amigas and just be done with it!

              Change is the BYWORD of this industry. Heaven forbid Microsoft make a change that you personally can't benefit from or don't agree with. The UI *added* a feature, Start Menu Tiles, and it's the freaking end of the world - how dare they add a new usage paradigm if I'm not personally going to use it

              Stop seeing Tiles by DELETING them like an adult, rather than pouting and yelling for the world to change. If you don't like them, get rid of them. Simple as that. What do you get? A basic yet will-sized program list. Nothing more. But I've grown sick and tired of hearing the anti-change establishment treat this issue as if it's the apocalypse, UI experience destroyed forever! Dump Windows NOW because TILES!

              You're beginning the old-age stage of fighting change, just because you don't want to adapt. I'm "over the hill" but still can deal with change - mirrorless cameras, driverless cars and Tiles! And look, the world still functions regardless. Who knew?

              1. Cynic_999

                Re: Apologists

                I don't mind change so long as there is a good reason for it. Otherwise un-learning the old way and learning the new way is just a PITA. How would you like it if you sent your car in for a service and it was returned with the accelerator pedal on the left, the brake pedal on the right, and the clutch in the middle? Without you being warned beforehand.

                I have no doubt you would soon learn the new arrangement. After a few pedestrian fatalities, perhaps.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Apologists

                I have afist for your face? Don't like change? Well, Win10 is bringing a broken nose and 2 black eyes! Yey! The change your face bandwagon!!!

                (I don't condone violence, but you're spouting out change as the expectation, and not noticing, enforcing and enabling the abusive behaviour of a company)

              3. Claverhouse Silver badge

                Re: Apologists

                Oh fuck off, if I desire some changes and dislike others, it is not reactionary.

                If you want to drink piss every day like many Indians to maintain health, that's fine: pissing in a water fountain to impose change on others is not fine.

              4. Michael Habel

                Re: Apologists

                If I could use a Migi to do Adobe Photoshop, and Lightroom, or Gimp, and Darktable, as well using the latest Firebadger. Then Sir I would be off like a shot!

                <quote>Stop seeing Tiles by DELETING them like an adult</quote>

                The problem One generaly finds is that Deleating the aforementioned "Tiles" (qua Candycursh), doesn't work, and the "Tile" will return like a bad case of digital herpes.

              5. Reaps

                Re: Apologists

                Change for change sake is bollocks

                The tiles were a shit slow way compared to the old start menu.

                They wanted to have a USP for the phones and made a shit touch based interface and rammed it into desktops to get you use to it, even though for desktop touch tiles are totally shit.

                It was a forced crap change for "marketing reasons" not good technical reasons.

                if you want to be forced to use shit then fine, but fuck off trying to force it on the rest of us that are fucking sane.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Apologists

                  Yep Windows 8 was absolutely horrible. Personally this is what got me to really hate the tiles, its association with the horrible (for a desktop) windows 8 start screen. Once they toned it all down they were already firmly established into the 'hate' corner and gone from my mind forever. What didn't help is a lot of them were just used for dynamic display of marketing messages offering other MS products & services and not for stuff that would actually interest me.

                  This is the thing with Microsoft. They're more concerned with marketing than with customer experience. They wanted to make headway into the tablet market, and forced everything in this direction to pump up market share, customers be damned.

                  The same with the constant rebranding of their products (think Office communicator -> Lync -> Skype for Business). Just because they wanted to inflate related brands they force customers through complex change management cycles.

                  I don't agree with everything Apple do with macOS (In fact I think it's becoming way too locked-down and prompts for approval way too much) but at least they have clear reasons for it that are customer-centric.

                  I think people are not resistant to change. There's just good and bad change. If the change is good and actually aimed at improving the customer experience, it will feel so natural that it's intuitively liked by the majority.

              6. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: Apologists

                Stop seeing Tiles by DELETING them like an adult, rather than pouting and yelling

                Ahem.

              7. Sudosu Bronze badge

                Re: Apologists

                We are now going to randomly rearrange the the keys on your keyboard with every Win 10 update.

                If you like you can go into settings and change them back...change is good.

              8. BitDr

                Re: Apologists (feeding the troll)

                Yes, by all means delete the tiles, is there a built-in way to mass-delete them? How about a "don't use tiles" setting in the config. Tiles was an idea that failed. As you say, get over it and move on. The larger question is why did it fail, what made people push back against it, and don't just say that they don't like change, why not? Well because look at the drastic change from DOS to Win 3.0. People hoovered up. Windows, gleefully dumping DOS. See? Change is good when it actually does make things better for the end-user.

          2. Michael Habel

            Re: Re:Tiles

            Im sure it has nothing at all to do with the fact that "Tiles" as used by MicroSoft, are just an ugly UI-UX that ultmately killed any chance of WinPho from taking marketshare from the more saner UI-UX based Apple, and Android Phones. And, as to the reason why most of us are resistant to change. is down to why fix what was never broke?

            In the case of Cortina... On the PC... I say good bye, and good riddence. I'm on the fence with Alexa, and its overall smart home capablities. Its insessent spying, yeah not so much. But, why would I need to "speak" at my Computer, like some dolt. When I have a very serviceable Keybord just stitting there with my hands just lightly resting on it anyway? I mean whats next? Telekenetic Mice pointers that know where I want to click next before I even knew I wanted to click there?

            There is a reason why NuCoke floped HARD. There to is a reason why most sane persons utter dispise the Live Tiles.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Re:Tiles

              I liked Live Tiles. Even if they weren't live I found them easier to read than Androids

            2. Fading
              Go

              Re: Re:Tiles

              Telekinetic mouse pointers you say? Tobii eye tracking has a feature where you can jump the mouse pointer to where you are looking - bit gimmicky but I can see it may be of use for those with limited limb function.

              1. Michael Habel
                Headmaster

                Re: Re:Tiles

                Ok I was being a pendantic smartarse... Ok?

          3. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Re:Tiles

            "The taskbar has mini-tiles in a sense, and everyone has no frustration with those."

            WRONG

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Productivity

          If the [ creepy ] tiles are presented as default, how many average users are ever going to know how to change to something saner ?

        3. Annihilator

          Re: Productivity

          "You can remove all the tiles from the start menu without using third party software."

          You can - until an update decides to add them back in again. That's the complaint.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Productivity

            "until an update" - the MAIN source of the "Start Thing" frustration.

            That, and the overall 2D FLAT-ASS appearance. And everything FORCIBLY sorted alphabetically. And don't EVEN get me started on the rest.

        4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Productivity

          On my Win10 machine, they come back on every reboot. Windows also pins shit to the taskbar on reboot and resets my application preferences.

          Win10 is a nightmare of ill-conceived and broken functionality.

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Productivity

            I’ve never had that problem. Probably your installation is broken and you are running with a temporary profile.

        5. JohnFen

          Re: Productivity

          Yes, you can, but that doesn't solve the other issues with the new start menu. Replacing it does.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Productivity

        Works for me.

        Not on my system.

        Stop whining, 99% of people get along with it fine.

        You can fix it in regedit/corporate versions.

        It's better for security this way.

        You were using it wrong/you should have read the update blogs/you should put 12 month delay on each update/it's your own fault

        /Win 10 apologist.

        1. Michael Habel

          Re: Productivity

          Ok there wiseguy How does One then come by a legal VLK of Enterprise (Grade) Windows X.2k4 then? I thought the most windows One could comeby was Windows X Pro, and even here they (Redmond), still have you by the short, and curlies. Lord help those on lower tier versions of that OS.

          So its great when you are settting up Biz Workstations. But, seeing as "Pro" is no longer "Corporate" I can't help shaking the feeling that such advice is well wasted. In any case we have had surly enough time, and as many "versions" of MicroSoft Windows X to know how well MicroSoft actually respects such changes to their regedit tables.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Productivity

            I think the /sarcasm style tags were not strong enough. Oh well.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Productivity

          AC - I appreciate the snark. Well played!

      3. NoneSuch Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Productivity

        Just let the user uninstall any unneeded feature, program or device as they require. Then the OS becomes and OS and not a surveillance delivery system.

        1. Michael Habel
          Stop

          Re: Productivity

          if you uninstall the MicroSoft Store. then you are depriving MicroSoft of their deserved profits.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Productivity

      Productivity would probably also be increased if you could get a window with the proper configuration settings that you needed without searching for it for ten minutes. Not to mention that, if the next update didn't go around changing my settings, I would really be more productive.

      Oh, and finally, it would really enhance productivity if Office products actually respected the language settings they are set to.

      Just recently I was giving a training course in Powerpoint and, on a laptop that was in English in Windows, on Powerpoint Options that clearly indicated that the interface language to use was the default OS language, the damn thing showed the Ribbon in French. Impossible to get it to actually obey its settings.

      Hello ? Microsoft ? Is anybody home ?

      I guess not. Too busy shouting at their OS to actually work.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Productivity

        Productivity would probably also be increased if you could get a window with the proper configuration settings that you needed without searching for it for ten minutes. Not to mention that, if the next update didn't go around changing my settings, I would really be more productive.

        Another fine example of fixing things that never asked to be fixed, because they were never freaking broken!

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Productivity

      What? You don't find every update to Office, in it's never ending quest to push the usable aspects as far down the click tree as possible while making cosmetic changes to push Office's GUI even closer to the pinnacle of obtuseness, to be the height of computer technology?

      1. Qumefox

        Re: Productivity

        I've personally come to the conclusion that a good 80% of microsoft devs are UI developers all trying to find reason to stay employed.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Productivity

          Tiles? What tiles?

          You mean those things that are on the screen for a few seconds before I launch the app I want to use.

          The OS is something I use to to get into the application where I do the productivity. Not something I sit and play with all day.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Productivity

          Maybe they could join our EU negotiating team now? It would probably be a big productivity boost for the government.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Productivity

      "My productivity would be greatly enhanced if I didn't have to keep accommodating to changes & breakages with every Windows update."

      Yes, but getting Micro-shaft to FOCUS ON SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY FIXES PROBLEMS AND MAKES SENSE is like getting a GOVERNMENT to do that...

      Oh, and a thumbs up for having said what you did.

      ("Up"grading - HIGHLY overrated!)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cortana, is disabled on our home network.

    Just get rid of it, its not much use to us in the UK

  3. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Yay!

    Cortana has gone. Woohooo....!!!!!!!

    Next is Bixby.

    1. Giovani Tapini
      Trollface

      Re: Yay!

      Don't celebrate too soon, check your running services in task manager... :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yay!

        How do you actually kill the bastard thing? I've tried everything from registry hacks to deleting bits of it and it just reappears.

        1. Michael Habel

          Re: Yay!

          Yes like a bad case of Candy Crush Saga herpes, that just wont go away.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yay!

      To be fair, Bixby actually did/does what it says on the box. Voice activation/use/function. Still not as useful for GUI commands as Voice Assistant, but handy none the less.

      The "forcefulness" installs of it though, and the personal data gathering, are not ok!

  4. 0laf

    Can't say I'll notice. Cortana was a PITA.

    On the other death notices, just checked ebay for Zune out of idle curiosity. They're still selling and big money being demanded for the larger capacity models.

    It's a strange world.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      re: Ebay

      Really selling or being listed?

      Likely as you posted here, you know to check completed listings etc rather than optimistic open listings

      1. 0laf

        Re: re: Ebay

        Many have bids. Sure some of the larger capacity versions listed have fantasy figures attached but I'm surprised there was any interest at all.

        I wonder if there is going to be much of a market for antique electronics apart from very early Apple kit and first editions of game changing hardware (Iphone 1, Razer, Startac, folding stuff).

    2. Teiwaz

      Zune?

      They're still selling and big money being demanded for the larger capacity models.

      Demanded isn't necessarily getting.

      But hope springs eternal. Especially for the stupid and greedy.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Zune?

        Demanded isn't necessarily getting.

        As anyone who has ever played a mining/manufacturing character in Eve Online knows very well. No - I'm not going to sell you the 100m worth of Vexor Navy issue for 100 ISK. I'd rather list it at a specific price and wait for someone realistic to come along and buy it..

      2. Michael Habel

        Re: Zune?

        Does MicroSoft even still have an iTunes like Software to make it useable? I not a particular fanboi of iTunes much either. Apple were like a bad dog that left alone leaves you presents all over your nice persian rug(s). but, there was a time, a long long time ago, where you'd be hard pressed to cite a better peice of software as well written as iTunes v4.0

  5. tempemeaty

    Moving options/software, one at a time, over to the other side of the Microsoft paywall to become part of their subscription pay-to-use options/software is a known and has been so for some time now.

    1. Michael Habel

      In the case of Cortina... Goodbye, and good riddence!

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    People in an open-plan office all using Cortana

    Is this a vision of a circle of hell I see before me?

    1. Sudosu Bronze badge

      Re: People in an open-plan office all using Cortana

      Yeah, at least Clippy never listened to anyone.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It isn't like MS

    to basically admit defeat. Perhaps Cortana was telling them that users thought that it was a POS?

    Are they thinking of doing a deal with Amazon to get Alexa integrated in consumer W10?

    That would be interesting (for some)

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: It isn't like MS

      You sure? No defeat on phones or band or mp3...

    2. Michael Habel

      Re: It isn't like MS

      Why, just what exactly would be the point of it? Those who are already vested in a Digital Assastant. *cough* Alexa *cough* will in most case already have a dedicated, or multiple dedications of some Alexa Device, or an other in their homes. I fail to see the need for this outside of external remote control of your internet of smart things, and I'm sure that that will never get compromised, or abused by mischiff makers on the intertubes. Ya know for teh lulz...

  8. Dave K

    Local account

    Interestingly from what I've seen, Cortana will require a Microsoft account for the remaining few bits to function. Which means a nice, easy new way of disabling what's left of it. Sign into a local account and bam! No more Cortana at all.

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: Local account

      You make this sound, like it was a bad thing.....

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Local account

      Sign into a local account and bam! No more Cortana at all

      .. until Microsoft disable the ability to use local accounts and force you to usea domain or MS account..

      It's one of logical endpoints and Google has already led the way.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Local account

        Well then just learn 2 code on Linux. or gasp get a Mac. It's hardly like MicroSoft the world of computers anymore.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Local account

      Local account: That is the FIRST thing I set up when I set up a Win-10-nic VM [never on actual hardware] for testing software on that platform. I make DAMN sure I'm not using their privacy-nuking cloud-based "Micro-shaft Account" for ANYTHING, especially not the 'admin' account in a Win-10-nic instance [which I rarely, if ever, use].

      yeah who gets anything from "the store" anyway, right? It was STUPID to require ANY of that.

      And NOW, Cortana goes away too. Like Clippy. [Clippy *IS* gone now, right? I haven't used a Microsoft 'office' type product in a VERY long time]

      And, seriously, WHO was that "bright bulb" "MENSA candidate" that decided that the SEARCH bar would "hit the cloud" *FIRST* anyway??? [that 'feature' needs to be *OFF*] I stopped using MS's search long ago, preferring instead to use find+grep under Cygwin... like I would in LINUX. Or FreeBSD.

      Of course MS totally missed the boat when it comes to user customization. Win-10-nic TOTALLY tried to REMOVE that (any kind of CHOICE or PREFERENCE we users might have), INSTEAD cramming their "bright blue on blinding white" 2D FLATTY *HIDEOUS* UI concepts into our various body orifices, without even the benefit of lube.

      So, INSTEAD, they could have opened up a method by which you could have your OWN search assistant, NOT tied through Bing, that didn't look/sound like Cortana. Maybe "Trixie" the porn-star assistant? Dressed like a Victorian maid, of course! And wanting to be PUNISHED whenever she gets something wrong...

      (I'd buy THAT for a dollar!)

  9. Troutdog

    Cortana will not be missed by me

    As a hardware engineer, it is easiest to use Windows (because most hardware design tools I need are developed for Windows). That said, overall, I like Win 10. It has been stable for me, and is a worthy successor to MS's last good OS: Windows 7. Also really like WSL.

    One of the first things I did was disable most of the Cortana crap. Absolutely no value add, IMHO.

    Incidentally, I literally have never used the tiles, although I see them there when I hit the start button.

    Also, I sit near the IT guys, and Cortana is really annoying every time they provision a new Windows laptop and don't turn the volume down right away.

  10. TheProf
    Thumb Down

    My Dad Will Be Disappointed

    He used to use it on his Windows phone. When that expired I had to get him the Android version of Cortana.

    Now he'll have to go through the learning process of getting Google to understand him when he asks 'what was the score of the Melchester Rovers match?'

    You try telling him to type it on the phone screen. He's got sausages for fingers and used Cortana for the fiddly digital things his digits couldn't work.

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: My Dad Will Be Disappointed

      Maybe next time you couled up him to one of them Jesus Phones that everyone likes so much, and has Siri on it.

  11. TheGriz

    Every single laptop or desktop I unboxed at work, when it came to the OOBE part where it asked if you wanted to use Cortana as your personal assistant, 100% of the time, TOLD IT NO!!!

    Hoping I had a small part in killing off one of their stupid ideas. LOL

  12. Claverhouse Silver badge
    WTF?

    Advertisers are the new Carny Folk

    ... will no longer be available in the updated Cortana experience in...

    Jeez... experience ?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Advertisers are the new Carny Folk

      experience

      Sure - lik herpes or genital warts are an experience. One that I can firmly live without.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Advertisers are the new Carny Folk

      the updated Cortana experience

      depending on the context, it could imply something rather *nasty*

      [oh please, Cortana, don't, stop, don't, stop, DON'T STOP DON'T STOP...]

      In the background, playing Jimmy Hendrix "Have you been experienced"

  13. Tromos
    Joke

    Global pandemic over

    The Cortanavirus threat is being eradicated

    1. Michael Habel
      Pint

      Re: Global pandemic over

      You deseve a refreshing Mexican Beer (With Lime) for that crack.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cortana

    I thought the Capri was cooler looking...

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Cortana

      the Capri was cooler looking

      You obviously were not around in the 1970s.. The only place that they won was in Top Trumps.

      (They are basically the same car underneath - either ridiculously overpowered for the suspension or ridiculously underpowered.)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Cortana

        Mark 2 as well as the Capri had rear cartsprings and newer Cortanas had coils.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cortana

      1975 Ford Australia Cortina spec; 4.0L straight six, four speed manual.

      Straight line monster, cornered like a bag of spuds.

  15. Jonjonz

    Another Bezos Snack

    Just one more product/service lunch eaten by Jeff Bezos.

    What's next personal AWS for gaming?

  16. Mr Dogshit

    I think my dad had a Ford Cortana.

  17. JohnFen

    Good riddance, Cortana

    Hopefully, I'll be able to avoid Cortana when using O365 as well.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Microsoft are going to punish me for not using a Microsoft account by removing features I don't like.. Great, bring it on!! :D

    While you're at it, please punish me more by removing telemetry and Edge from my computer!!

  19. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Cortana == Clippy

    Cortana is just the new version of Clippy. No one asked for it, no one wants it, no one likes it. MAKE IT GO AWAY.

  20. BGatez

    How much crap spyware can MS throw up anyway

  21. TechHeadToo

    I just spent 34 hours - yes - a full working week (for normal people) trying to get W10 to update on a tiny laptop who's only purpose is to be there, with W10, as a support box for a disabled user.

    I have a catalog of the inconsistencies, illogicalities, and downright lies that Windows tells whilst not installing. Cortana leapt to life at the point where I threw up my hands and reinstalled the original OS from recovery media. She shut up, thankfully, when I came to finally, update to 'latest' .

    My pal Siri, however, keeps on improving. It must have something to do with different ways to consider your customers.

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