Cortana was launched on Windows 10 with much fanfare, and Microsoft brought it right on the taskbar to make sure that users are aware of it, but it looks like the company is now planning a change of strategy.
A report from Thurrott reveals that Microsoft is currently testing a new home for Cortana in internal builds of Windows 10, as the company wants to move it to the system tray and get rid of the taskbar icon.
And it’s all happening for a good reason: only a few people actually use Cortana on the desktop and keep the icon in the taskbar, so by moving it to the system tray, the company hopes the feature would be considered less intrusive and more users would give it a try.
Back in the original version of Windows 10, Microsoft decided to offer the personal assistant as a taskbar feature because it wanted Cortana to be easily discoverable in the operating system. This is a strategy that Microsoft also adopted in Windows 8 when the Start screen replaced the Start menu, with company executives admitting that such a dramatic change was adopted because it was considered the best way to make people aware that the Start screen existed.
According to the aforementioned report, the taskbar approach for Cortana, however, isn’t really paying off, despite the statistics that the company provides on every occasion. Monthly active user stats are increased whenever someone performs activities like searching from the taskbar or in Microsoft Edge, but in reality, only a few people actually use Cortana as a fully-featured personal assistant.
It appears that offering Cortana in the system tray was the original plan anyway, so if such a change makes it to production builds of Windows 10, everything would align with the initial Windows 10 strategy.
In addition to the new home, Cortana will also get a conversation-like user interface, as well as smart reply suggestions like Google Allo. Cortana will open from the right side of the screen from the taskbar, and will be placed near the Action Center and the clock.
If approved, this change would go live for all users in the Fall Creators Update later this year, with insiders likely to be the first giving it a try in preview builds landing in summer.