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Windows 10 Anniversary Update: The good, the bad and the 'meh'

Preston Gralla | Aug. 3, 2016
The new version of Windows 10 is a solid, if not dramatic, upgrade. Cortana haters, though, won't be happy.

cortana mail 2

Cortana can now use its intelligence to send emails when you speak to it.

Cortana has a few other new tricks up its sleeve. It can now add information to your Windows 10 calendar based on emails you receive, such as adding airline flight info if you receive a flight confirmation via email. I tried this out, and it worked without a hitch when the flight confirmation was sent to my account, but didn't work when it was sent to my Gmail account. (By the way, Microsoft doesn't have bragging rights to being the first to introduce this feature. Google Inbox already does it.)

According to Microsoft, Cortana now integrates better across multiple devices, including Android and Windows phones (although not iPhones). Ask for directions on your computer, and the directions will be sent to your phones as well. You'll also be able to find a lost phone from your computer via geolocation.

Cortana is also now available from the lock screen, so you won't need to log in to your account in order to use it. Click in the Search bar, click the gear icon on the left side of the Cortana panel that appears (it controls Cortana's settings) and move the slider from Off to On under "Lock screen options."

In addition, Cortana can now search through your OneDrive files, not just the ones on your local machine.

I found all this nice to have, and it makes Cortana marginally more useful than previously. But if you didn't use Cortana before, nothing here will make you want to use it now.

There's one change to Cortana that a lot of people might not like: You can't remove it or turn it off. Before this update you could go to Cortana's settings and move the slider from On to Off. No longer. Now Cortana is always on.

However, you can limit what the digital assistant knows about you. Click in the Cortana search bar, then click the Settings icon (it looks like a cog) on the left side of the pane that appears. Turn off what you see there, such as your search history, device history and so on.

(Note: As of August 2nd, some users have reported that Cortana won’t work with the update or that some features are disabled, including voice response and Internet access. I’ve also received a report from a reader that neither Cortana nor Microsoft Edge works on the two laptops on which he’s installed the update.)

Something new: Windows Ink

One of the few truly new features in the update is Windows Ink, which lets you use a stylus to write on touch devices.


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