Wednesday, 31 May 2017 13:21

Microsoft's Subtle New Windows 10 Feature Is Superb

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We're all getting used to voice assistants, so it should be no surprise that Microsoft has a great new feature in Windows 10 that uses Cortana, the company's digital assistant, to guide you through the setup process. This is new in version 1703 or "Creators Edition" and it represents a real change to how friendly PCs can be these days.

I only found out about this by chance, because like most people I only rarely do a fresh install of Windows. But an old laptop had stopped booting because I'd clearly installed a platform preview of Windows 10 and forgotten to update it. So I wiped everything and did a fresh install of 10 on the machine.

The Cortana process is slick as anything. It works best - I would imagine - on laptops that have built-in microphones and speakers. You're basically equipped to use Cortana out of the box here, where desktop PCs might require drivers and such to get their microphones working. I don't know how Windows manages if it can't find a microphone - presumably it just guides you with Cortana's voice to input things with the keyboard.

Cortana speaks instructions, and prints them on the bottom of the screen too.
Cortana speaks instructions, and prints them on the bottom of the screen too.

The process is great though, and for anyone with a disability or trouble operating a keyboard and mouse, this is a really nice introduction to Windows. You need to give Windows a Wi-Fi password and username, although the Wi-Fi is probably optional - there's no option to spell out these inputs, which makes sense because it could go horribly wrong.

I found it nice enough to speak to the laptop and say "yes" or "no" to the questions I was asked. This is a pretty low-friction way to install a computer OS, and for an old goat like me, it feels very high tech. I can remember the first days of talking to a PC back when Soundblaster introduced basic Windows controls with its sound cards. It was painful, and could only perform a very small number of tasks and would almost certainly mess it up.

Now we have computers that speak clearly, can explain what's happening and why and get you to confirm you're happy to carry on. It's a deeply impressive advance and it's nice to give a shout-out to Microsoft when it gets something right. We can talk about the countless ads and annoyances that are creeping in to Windows 10 another day.

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Ian Morris

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