Windows 10 has a new preview build out which enables Cortana’s conversational skills in a number of regions worldwide.
Previously, Cortana’s ‘natural’ conversational skills were only available to US testers, but with the new build 19613 being pushed out to the fast ring, Microsoft is rolling out the functionality to Australia and the UK, as well as some other countries in Europe (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) and elsewhere across the globe (Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico).
- New Windows 10 Start menu spotted – with a controversial change
- How to work smarter from home with Windows 10
- We solve 100 common Windows 10 problems
The update for the Cortana app turns on Bing Answers and Assistant Conversations in those regions.
As Microsoft explains in a blog post, this means you can now ask the digital assistant questions like ‘What can you do?’, ‘What’s the weather?’, or to do measurement conversions, set reminders, and so forth, with an overall more natural, chatty approach.
The rollout of this new functionality is being staggered among testers, so you might not see it straightaway with build 19613. You’ll know you’ve got the update when you’re Cortana app version is 2.2004.1706.0.
That’s the only major change with this preview build, although there’s a bunch of the usual fixes, including a solution for a problem which meant icons in the taskbar weren’t displaying correctly, a bugbear which was certainly irritating some testers.
The long-term goal is to make Cortana an indispensable source of help on the productivity front, as opposed to actually trying to challenge the established digital assistant players (an idea that Microsoft gave up on quite some time ago). Rumor has it that Cortana will be renamed Microsoft 365 Assistant in the future, to reflect its new productivity focus.
- These are the best laptops of 2020
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).