At an event January 21, Microsoft announced and demonstrated a healthy list of new features that will be included in Windows 10. One of the highlights is the addition of Cortana. For those unfamiliar, Cortana is a voice-activated personal assistant. Think of it as Siri, but for Windows. You can use it to get weather forecasts, set reminders, tell you jokes, send email, find files, search the Internet and so on.

At the end of the event, Microsoft promised a new Technical Preview would be released within a week that included some of the new features shown off during the event. On Friday, Microsoft delivered with Build No. 9926. Included in this build is Cortana, although in a limited capacity. For example, when you ask Cortana to send an email on your behalf you’re told to wait for a future update. I’ve run into this same answer a few different times since installing the latest build, which is understandable given this is a very early build.

One feature I at first thought had been left out of this build was the ability to say “Hey, Cortana” to activate the assistant. It turns out you need to enable Cortana in the settings. I’ve been asking for jokes nonstop since.

  • To activate “Hey, Cortana,” click in the search box located in the Taskbar.
  • When the Cortana window comes up, click in the top-left corner and select Settings from the menu.
  • The fourth option in the list of Settings will enable Cortana to respond when you call it by voice. Slide the switch to the “On” position.

You can now go about using your computer as you normally would, and whenever you need Cortana to perform a task, start by saying, “Hey, Cortana,” followed by your command. I’ve found you have to continue with your command immediately after the activation prompt, instead of waiting for Cortana to load and indicate that it’s listening.

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Jason Cipriani

Jason Cipriani has been covering mobile technology news for over five years. His work spans from CNET How To and software review sections to WIRED’s Gadget Lab and See full bio

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