Chat to your Computer with Cortana

The guys from the USS Enterprise had no issues conversing with computers but it’s still relatively new to us. Sure there are programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking and such that will allow you to interact with your computer, but it has been relatively one-sided for some time. But now Windows 10 is here and it’s brought along a chatty friend: Cortana.

Who is Cortana?

Cortana is Microsoft’s powerful, intelligent digital assistant. Cortana will help you find things on your PC, manage your calendar, tell you about the weather, find files, and much more. The more you use Cortana, the more personalised your experience will be, this is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri, combining the personalised awareness of the former and the friendly, chatty mannerisms of the latter.

What can Cortana do for me?

Cortana can be configured on a Windows 10 device to wait and listen. All you have to do is say “Hey, Cortana” to wake the feature, much like the highly unsuccessful predecessor which was introduced in Vista to allow you to control your PC with your voice. To enable this feature, swipe from the right (or tap the Notifications icon in the Windows 10 System Tray) to reveal the new Action Center (Notifications), then tap the All Settings option. On the Settings screen, open System, then go to Cortana & Search, open the customise Cortana. From there, switch on the toggle for “Hey, Cortana”.

Cortana listens for the command to wake her up and then you can ask her any question you like, be it recipes for your favourite dish, what the weather is doing tomorrow or what the outcome of sporting events are. Other features include the ability to set reminders for yourself, recognising the user’s voice, searching for files and folders and pushing important alerts and notifications to you instantly.

She’s also integrated into Edge Browser if you enable that feature in the settings and will answer any questions you ask her directly from the browser with a quick response. She will also answer any mathematical questions you ask her. I don’t know enough about mathematics to really test her but she can do the simple day-to-day stuff really quickly.

Cortana Easter Eggs

Cortana on Windows 10 also has a number of fun little Easter Eggs, we’ve found a few and there are posts online with massive lists of odd questions you can ask and their responses. We’re going to put a few of our favourites on here to give you an idea but personally, I like the thrill of finding these little gems myself so we’ll let you decide if you want to go out and find a bunch of them or if you want to sit there yelling random questions at your computer.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Hey Cortana, sing me a song!

Hey Cortana, do you know Clippy?

Cortana has a range of songs that she will actually sing to you! So far we’ve had Frere Jacques and You are My Sunshine. I wonder what else she has in her repertoire Cortana has a good knowledge of her non-corporeal predecessors and Microsoft products in general. Ask away, there are more questions where this came from!
Windows-10-Cortana-Sing-A-Song Windows-10-Cortana-Do-You-Know-Clippy

Hey Cortana! Open the pod bay doors!

Hey Cortana, what do you think of Apple?

Cortana appears to be a fan of modern science fiction as well, seeing how this trend of friendly, chatty, nerdy personal assistants going means there are plenty more movie references to find! Good Luck! Cortana has a range of opinions on non-Microsoft brands but it’s safe to say I doubt anyone can beat her brand loyalty. Don’t expect her to pick up a PlayStation any-time soon!
Windows-10-Cortana-Open-the-pod-bay-doors Windows-10-Cortana-What-Do-You-Think-of-Apple

How many more are there?

Well, in the office we’ve got a list of around 30 questions that Cortana will respond to. We’ve read a few blog posts where they’ve found well in excess of 50+ questions to badger her with. We’ll pop a few up of ours below to get you started. Why not send in some of your findings via Facebook?

Ask about herself…

  • Are you real?
  • Where do you live?
  • Who is your creator?

 She is happy to amuse you…

  • Tell me a joke
  • Tell me a story
  • Why did the chicken cross the road?

Find how dedicated to Microsoft she is…

  • What’s the best search engine?
  • Which is better: PlayStation or Xbox?
  • Who is better: Cortana or Siri?

After First Contact

We’re really pleased with Cortana, it’s certainly an interesting way to interact with your computer and it may take some getting used to talking to a computer with an actual personality as opposed to a robotic monotone or something that just processes commands. We think she’s a fun and interesting addition to Windows 10 and that being the case you may actually want to use this feature.