Windows 10 build 9901: Hands-on with Cortana running on the desktop

Cortana on Windows 10

While Microsoft plans to unveil the consumer features of Windows 10 during a press event in January, a new version has leaked onto the web. This time is Windows 10 build 9901, a private release not meant for the public. However, thanks to this new leak, we now have more information of what Microsoft is readying for consumers.

Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes within Windows 10 build 9901 is the improved version of Cortana, digital assistant, running in the taskbar with her unmistakable circular animation look and sounds. Although, Cortana isn’t on its final appearance, we can now see where the company is headed with the features and looks.

It will come as no surprise that Cortana for Windows 10 looks and behaves much like the version of Windows Phone. On build 9901, the assistant is partially working and seems a lot more responsive. She sits in the taskbar and she will appear as soon as you click on the search box.

Cortana UI Windows 10 build 9901

If you’re signed-in with your Microsoft account, all your preferences from Windows Phone will roam to the desktop version.

From the top-left side, you can click the menu to access various sections, including “Cortana Home”, Notebook, Reminders, Places, and Settings.

Cortana menu

Going to the Settings section reveals that you can change the name Cortana uses to call you. You can disable or enable to have the assistant call you by your name and detect tracking information, and we can see that “Hey Cortana” present is included as well.

Hey Cortana - Settings page

“Hey Cortana” is a feature that allows you to interact with the digital assistant without having to manually open the application. You can simply say “Hey Cortana” to trigger the assistant and use the feature hands-free.

In addition, of course, you can search anything, depending on the query you type, you’ll see search results from local files, Settings, Store, and the web.

Another interesting feature is when clicking “Search my stuff” when doing search. This will expand to wider UI, where you can filter your search by: Files, Apps, Settings, Photos, Videos, Music, and Email – very handy.

Search my stuff UI, Cortana on Windows 10

A few week ago, we’ve seen a demo of Cortana from another leaked version of Windows 10, but the version Microsoft is shipping with build 9901, we can now see how this feature is coming together.