Feedback Friday: How would you improve Cortana?

With the success of the Windows Insider program, Microsoft now lets anyone give them formal feedback through the Windows Feedback app . In this series we break down some of the most intriguing feedback and suggestions. We’ll do our best to dive into the lists of feedback rather than just have “dark theme everywhere.” This week we look at Cortana, Microsoft's personal, digital assistant.

Note that the links to feedback items work by opening the Feedback Hub in Windows 10.

It seems like every device these days has a personal assistant. From phones to PCs to dedicated home devices, they aren't rare. But they do vary in how useful they are. Cortana is Microsoft's digital assistant and it has come a long way over the last couple years.

The digital assistant is receiving a boost in the upcoming Anniversary Update of Windows 10, as seen in yesterday's released preview build, but there's always room to improve.

I want to start off by saying that I think Cortana is trending in the right direction. It already has many features, developers of apps often utilize it, and Microsoft is working hard to add improvements. As it continues to be developed and jumps onto more devices such as the Xbox One, we'll get an even better digital assistant.

Now that that's out of the way, time for some feedback.

Make Cortana available in more countries and unify the experience

This could probably be an article on its own. I understand that Cortana is an intricate piece of tech. Microsoft can't just shove her responses through Bing translate to make her work in any country, region, or language. But that being said, she lags behind in many regions and isn't available in others.

Usually I'd cite a specific piece of feedback but I might as well just link you to the entire Windows Feedback app or any comment thread from our site for an article that we mention it.

Cortana is great for region specific features when they're supported. From a this perspective, I'm lucky to be from the US and live in the UK. Many features are available in both countries but that isn't the case everywhere. Cortana, and its power source Bing, vary quite a bit from region to region.

As some good news on this front, Microsoft is actively trying to fix this. They add more regions as they can and it seems that this is feedback that they're very aware of. I just don't think an article on this topic could be complete without at least mentioning this.

"Cortana should be able to do more functional stuff"

This is a very highly upvoted piece of feedback. It has over 4,200 votes and rightfully so. Cortana is gaining some great features such as running on the lock screen and integrating better with Groove Music but there are some features that are surprisingly missing.

For example, it didn't gain the ability to set a timer until yesterday, and that is only in a preview build. Being able to turn off the PC and generally do more tasks without requiring the user to touch their keyboard would be a big boost to our blue circle of a friend.

Allow Cortana to remember previous queries

I'm paraphrasing this piece of feedback but it's a good one. Essentially, this user would like the ability to ask Cortana a question and then ask a follow up question based on Cortana's response. This would create more of a conversational feel and would get us one step closer to having Iron Man's Jarvis (or Friday depending on the film you're watching) on our PCs, which let's be honest would be pretty amazing.

"Be able to tell Cortana 'never mind' or something like that if you accidentally say 'Hey Cortana.'"

This piece of feedback stems from a sometimes irritating, sometimes funny effect of having Hey Cortana on. It seems eager to help and often jumps up and begins listening to you. Occasionally that happens when you, or someone else, says Cortana's name but don't intend to activate it. Being able to quickly deactivate it would be a nice feature.

There's more that could be improved about Cortana but we try to not make these extremely long. We may circle back on some of the more popular feedback areas if there's a significant amount of more feedback.

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