Microsoft Limits Cortana To Bing Search, Edge Browser - InformationWeek

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4/30/2016
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Microsoft Limits Cortana To Bing Search, Edge Browser

Microsoft is restricting Cortana to work only with Bing and Edge, and eliminating the use of third-party browsers and search engines for its digital assistant.

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Cortana can no longer be used to view results in third-party browsers or search engines in Windows 10. As part of an OS update, Microsoft has restricted its personal digital assistant to work along with only Bing and its Edge browser.

The Cortana search box, located in the bottom left corner of the Windows 10 desktop, is a key portal for Windows 10 users to access documents, apps, settings, and Web search results. Now those Web searches will be limited to Bing and Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft says the restriction is intended to protect the Cortana user experience, which it created to rely on its own browser and search engine. Previously, workarounds allowed users to view search results on Google, Chrome, Firefox, and other third-party search engines and browsers.

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"Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana," wrote Ryan Gavin, general manager of Search and Cortana, on the Windows Blog.

"The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable," he explained. "The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can't depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser."

As a result, the team is restricting Cortana to only work with Edge and Bing effective April 28. Windows 10 users can still opt to change their default browser to Chrome or Firefox, or set their default search engine to Google.

Microsoft rolled out several features for Cortana at the same time it announced these restrictions, which prevent the new capabilities from effectively working without Edge or Bing.

One of these additions is the ability to troubleshoot tech via Cortana. You can search "Bluetooth not working" in the Cortana box, for example, and a Bing search result will pop up with a video answer to help.

If you need to do some online shopping, you can start by conducting a Bing image search. Scroll through the results, right-click your choice, and select "Ask Cortana" to learn more about the chosen product.

In a few situations, using Cortana may save some money. If you're looking for a specific store, like Best Buy, type the name into the Cortana box and select the top search result -- in this case, www.bestbuy.com -- and the digital assistant will provide a few coupons.

(Image: Michal Krakowiak/iStockPhoto)

(Image: Michal Krakowiak/iStockPhoto)

While Microsoft reports it's implementing these restrictions to improve the user experience, there are likely a few more reasons why Cortana will only work with Edge and Bing.

Microsoft made Windows 10 available as a free upgrade to Windows users at the time of its official launch in July 2015. The idea was to put Windows into the hands of as many users as possible.

However, Microsoft is still looking for ways to make money off the OS outside the fees it charges OEMs to put it on their devices. Windows 10 and Bing are tightly woven together, and increasing the user base for Bing will generate more ad revenue for Microsoft.

Windows 10 has already boosted search advertising for Microsoft. In its most recent earnings call, the company reported search advertising revenue grew 18% in constant currency during its third fiscal quarter of 2016. Growth was driven by an increase in Windows 10 use.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2016 | 12:44:26 PM
Re: Devil's advocate
It's not really that bad, but it is quite busy compared to Google which is pretty much no nonsense. It's sort of like the "Metro" screen of searches! Still I will use it if i do not get what i am looking for with Google.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2016 | 12:48:06 PM
Re: Strategic?
Absolutely. MS wants to keep everything "in the family". But like with Office, all the best applications are not necessarily contained in the same package.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2016 | 12:51:07 PM
Re: Devil's advocate
Bing is trying hard to be everything to everyone. MS purchased other search sites from other countries so it is also incorporating this data into their application. The result is sometimes information overload. The appeal of Google was the no nonsense interface.
tjgkg
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50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2016 | 12:53:04 PM
Re: Strategic?
And when you consider all the "Microsoft millionaires" out there people are less likely to be tolerant of MS trying to monetize every single pixel on a website.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
5/4/2016 | 6:54:08 AM
Re: Strategic?
@jries: I am reminded of when I worked in the box office of an equity theatre many years ago one summer in my youth.

One afternoon, I overheard a conversation between the theatre's General Manager and the Box-Office Manager.  (For those not in the know, the two head honchos of any theatre are the General Manager and the Artistic Director.)  They were talking about ticket subscriptions, and how they needed to sell more subscriptions to raise their profits.

Naive teenage me piped up, "But I thought we were not-for-profit."

The General Manager, a big, burly old man, let out an enormous boffo, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Kid, every business is for profit."
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
5/4/2016 | 7:02:05 AM
Re: Devil's advocate
The basic UI is (usually -- see my discussion of Doodle overuse) is definitely no nonsense, but in general no nonsense?

Google now has a feature where there will be a featured best answer to certain searches -- particularly ones with straightforward answers.

But I have frequently found these featured "straightforward" answers to be at times loaded, at times incorrect, and at times completely inappropriate (even racially charged).

 
tjgkg
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50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2016 | 8:53:42 AM
Re: Devil's advocate
I can't say I have ever found any search results from Google racially charged. The thing that does drive me crazy about most of the searches is the ads are placed first. But for the most part I think the search experience is better on Google in getting to the heart of the search and easier to navigate than Bing which can really be too busy.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2016 | 11:10:17 AM
Re: Devil's advocate
Excelllent point -- Limited to Google only? We need more search engines, or a better way to find things on the net. That would also be nice

>>  But it's still useful, it offers diversity of top results, and its maps solution seems to be a heck of a lot better.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
5/5/2016 | 7:33:58 AM
Re: Devil's advocate
@vnewman: The doodles were fun when they were rare.  Scarce.  Now they are no longer special.

The very day after the National Teachers Day doodle was another doodle for someone's 100-somethingth birthday.

I've genuinely stopped caring about the doodles.  They're so commonplace these days that they just get an eyeroll from me now, no matter what they're for.
Joe Stanganelli
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50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
5/5/2016 | 7:35:18 AM
Re: Devil's advocate
@jastroff: We used to have more search engines.  A bunch, actually.  17 years ago, Altavista and Metacrawler were my search engines of choice.  Both of those are gone now.
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