MICROSOFT HAS GIVEN US another preview of the future of Windows in the form of Windows 10 Build 18317 (19H1), and it brings a significant change to the way searches are handled.
Up to now, Windows 10 has had a single box at the bottom of the screen that can act both as a search bar and a trigger for Microsoft's increasingly-isolated voice assistant, Cortana.
With this build, Cortana and search are separated, with ol' blue hue getting her own button away from the traditional search.
Redmond claims that "this will enable each experience to innovate independently to best serve their target audiences and use cases", which is posh bulllcrap for "nobody likes Cortana or Bing".
One of the biggest criticisms (amongst many) of Windows 10 was when Cortana (and therefore search) was tied down to using Bing instead of Google. To start with, it was possible, then possible with a small hack, now not at all.
We're hoping that separating the search might actually include giving us back the choice of engine, though this hasn't been expressly said.
It's unlikely we'll see Cortana running anything other than Bing any time soon, because she doesn't always work properly without it. But then, who uses Cortana anyway?
Other changes in this Windows 10 build include a dedicated service to run the start menu and (hopefully) make it more reliable, a drag-and-drop option for installing fonts, and in a somewhat meta move, an improved Insider feedback hub.
There are lots of other tweaks and fixes to discover too. If you are a Fast Ring insider, you should get the drop appearing soon. If not, as ever, it's not recommended for your daily driver, but if you have a secondary machine and you'd like to play, you can join the Insider Program from within the Update screen in Windows.
For those of us that prefer to wait for perfection, the stable build is due to arrive in late Spring, right after Microsoft finishes fixing that October update.
Apparently, that saga is going to get forced onto machines soon - through some of the office machines haven't been offered it at all yet. μ
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