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Here's what Windows 10 won't change: Window 8's plans to tie you to Microsoft services

Brad Chacos | July 21, 2015
Live Tiles and full-screen apps are gone, but Microsoft is still trying to keep you inside its ecosystem.

But Cortana, a key Windows 10 feature that replaces Windows' search function and comes baked into the new Edge browser, is even cleverer.

Let's get one thing straight: Cortana rocks!  She has spunk, something Siri and Google Now can't claim. But more to the point, on Windows Phone 8.1, the digital assistant proves insanely helpful, surfacing local establishments, setting reminders, scouring the web, and more.

In order to do so, however, she taps into Bing's knowledge engine, pulling information from the web to augment her results. To deliver the best, most tailored information, Cortana needs to build up detailed personal information about your personal quirks and preferences (which you can manage, of course).

In other words, Cortana's built from the ground up to get you using Bing--even if you aren't aware you're doing so--and to create a remarkably detailed profile about you for Microsoft. And once you're hooked on your PC, Microsoft hopes you'll stay loyal to Cortana, with plans to bring the digital assistant to Android and iOS in the coming months.

Glass half-empty or glass half-full?

That's fine, of course, if you're fine with it.

Most people will find Cortana's tailored help useful, and the assistant's eventual ability to search your local files using natural language--"Find me photos over 5GB in size from December of last year"--sounds much more intuitive than the programmatic drop-down menus Windows searches relied on in the past. Microsoft's services can be a blessing as well. As a writer I live in Office, and I rely on OneDrive and Windows 8's cross-device account syncing on a daily basis. 

The beauty of Windows 10 is that it morphs Microsoft's central vision from the multi-hued monstrosity that was Windows 8 into something that feels like it truly belongs on traditional PCs. Rather than slamming you over the head with Windows apps and Microsoft apps, Windows 10 (mostly) seamlessly integrates them with the desktop paradigm. It's a massive step forward from Windows 8, and I look forward to using it every day for the foreseeable future.

But for people who disdain the idea of trapping desktop software inside a walled garden dubbed "The Windows Store," or people who prefer to have their PC completely under their control rather than brimming with web hooks and enticements to buy Microsoft services--people who consider Windows 8's Live Tiles and full-screen apps a symptom of Windows 8's core disease, in other words--Windows 10 will do nothing to cure that ill. 

Just something to think about.

 

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