Cortana: Microsoft’s Personal Voice Assistant Explained


When it was originally unveiled in 2014, Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana opened a wide range of possibilities for Windows 10 users.

It eliminated the burden of remembering things, provided versatility by proactively suggesting useful activities for its users, and generally made it possible to do more with less effort. Since then, however,

Microsoft has been reluctant to advance this innovation. With competitors such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa taking over new devices every year, Microsoft has remained silent, with the last inception being the Cortana-powered thermostat introduced in 2017.

What Exactly Is Cortona?

Cortana is a virtual assistant with voice-recognition capability, specifically designed by Microsoft for Windows 10 users.

It can, however, support iOS and Android devices, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the Edge Browser, Xbox, as well as third-party devices like smart speakers and thermostats.

At least 148 million people use the technology as of 2018, according to Microsoft.

The name Cortana originated from a synthetic intelligence character in the Halo video game, with the US version being voiced by Jen Taylor.

The voice assistant is currently available in several languages, depending on the region and the software platform in which it is used.

These include English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese.


Cortana has a wide range of functions.

1. Saving Time

You can use Cortana for virtually anything you need. She can give you directions, answer your questions, tell you the weather, play music, and much more.

Generally, it takes care of everything worth noting or researching, allowing you to proceed with your day with minimum interruptions.

2. Making Life Easier

Cortana works like a real-life assistant. She takes care of the little things to make your life a lot easier.

For instance, she can set up your smart home services, synchronize your music, and even organize your calendar.

3. Time Management

You can also use Microsoft’s Cortana to organize your life. In particular, she can help you manage your time by setting reminders for important events. She can even schedule your day and let you know when you are double-booked for appointments.

4. Across Devices

Cortana can simplify your work by synchronizing events across multiple devices. Once you add tasks to your main device, Cortana can set them up on your iPhone or Android gadgets.

What Can It Do?

Cortona can recognize your natural voice without the need for keyboard input and derive information (such as sports scores, traffic conditions, current weather, biographies, etc.) from search engines to answer your questions.

She monitors your Bing searches to determine favorite musicians or bands, and then uses this information to select music you are interested in.

You can activate her by simply saying, “Hey Cortana”, into your device. Using services like Foursquare, Cortana can actually be able to recommend local attractions and restaurants for its users.

Here are some of the other things the technology can do for you:

  • “Send texts and emails”
  • “Create and manage lists”
  • “Track flights, interests, teams, and packages”
  • “Play games and chit chat”
  • “Open apps on your system”
  • “Find certain info, facts, places, and files”

How to Disable Cortana?

Microsoft’s Cortana collects vital details such as information about your internet history, location, calendar, contacts, favorites, inking & typing, speech, and more.

Considering this extensive application of the technology and its significant access to your information, there have been obvious concerns about the issue of privacy.

Some users have actually cited an invasion of privacy by Microsoft from the collection of certain pieces of information about their lives. The good news is that you now have the option to turn off Cortana and prevent it from gathering personal data.

The process is pretty straightforward and can be done in two ways. The first method involves launching the virtual assistant from the search bar, clicking the settings button, and then switching to the off position under the “Cortana” option.

The second method involves going to the Privacy menu of the Settings app, and then clicking “Stop” under the Speech, inking and typing option.

Either action prompts Cortana to delete everything she knows about you, except previously-collected information from her Notebook.

To erase any remaining information from the virtual assistant’s database, go to the Settings page of your Bing browser. From your account, select “Clear” for both personal info and other data. Once you confirm the deletion, everything will be erased for good.

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