Two days ago, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 20H1 preview build that contained a couple of hidden features, including a new Cortana Beta app. Once enabled, the app still appears next to Windows Search in the taskbar, but it comes with a revamped design and the same conversational UI that is already available on iOS and Android.
Here's the new Cortana app in action. Very reminiscent of current mobile experiences. pic.twitter.com/2wX7oLXVuX
— Albacore (@thebookisclosed) June 19, 2019
This hidden Cortana Beta app was first discovered by Twitter user Albacore, but Rudy Huyn, the former prolific Windows Phone developer has since revealed more secrets about the new client. According to Huyn, this new Cortana app is a full UWP app that could work on other platforms where UWP apps can already run. However, it appears that the app does rely on a separate Win32 process that can work in the background, as do other UWP apps such as Dropbox (Rudy Huyn had a big role in the development of the Dropbox UWP app, FYI).
The confusion comes from a second process named win32Bridge.Server. If you aren't aware, a full-UWP app can run a secondary win32 process in background to get access to more API (Only when running in desktop). Article from @StefanWickDev here: https://t.co/BFOYUeC7I1
— Rudy Huyn (@RudyHuyn) June 21, 2019
In the same Twitter thread, Huyn also added that Cortana Beta is actually a Store app, which means that Microsoft will be able to update it at convenience, in a similar way to the Xbox Game Bar on Windows 10. The existing Cortana didn’t always require a full new Windows 10 build to get new features, as Microsoft has been able to do some server side changes over the years. However, this new Cortana Beta app, which the company has yet to officially announce, could be updated much more frequently.
The Windows 10 May 2019 Update (19H1) finally separated Cortana from Windows Search, it seems that Cortana could finally get some love with the 20H1 Update. The digital assistant has been pretty much stagnating in recent years, and Microsoft can’t really afford to rest on its laurels now that Alexa is available for everyone in the Microsoft Store.Further reading: 20H1, build 18922, Cortana, Fast Ring, UWP Apps, Windows 10, Windows Insider