back to article Microsoft scoops Search UI out from the gaping black maw of Cortana

Microsoft is experimenting with taking Search out of Cortana and making it more Mac-like in the newest Windows 10 build. Searching currently is funnelled through the Cortana UI, whose emblem, appropriately enough, is a black hole. Cortana bungs together many things besides search – tasks and notes and even bots. Cortana is …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What a shame

    I like typing "depends" or "computer management" in the start box - because you can't find anything in the menu anymore - and having it fire up web pages for adult daipers and IT service companies

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Joke

    web pages for adult daipers

    And you keep asking - 'How do they know?'

  3. thomas k

    That's funny ...

    I recently discovered I could hide that search box on the taskbar, so I did. It seemed redundant since there's a search box at the bottom of the start menu just above the start button.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: That's funny ...

    "It seemed redundant since there's a search box at the bottom of the start menu just above the start button"

    ...not in our build of Windows 10 Home there isn't. It's Cortana or nothing. I've switched off (ok, _hidden_ which is the best you can achieve in Home edition!) Cortana so there's no other way to search the damned programs menu!! God damn you Microsoft!

  5. iron Silver badge

    Re: That's funny ...

    Just type. Works exactly like in Win7.

    It is funny how often people complain about things that are missing / don't work in Win10 that are actually present and work exactly like Win7.

  6. Glenturret Single Malt

    Re: That's funny ...

    If you do that you, of course, get Bing results.

  7. RareToy

    Yes, just what I want. An annoyance in the middle of my screen and probably serving ads too.

  8. IGnatius T Foobar
    Megaphone

    Give us what we REALLY want!

    Give us what we REALLY want: the ability to TURN CORTANA OFF COMPLETELY.

  9. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    You mean : TURN THE DATA-SLURPING OFF COMPLETELY...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    Use a local account instead of a Microsoft account.

    Cortana needs a Microsoft account to function.

    There are also tools and tweaks available to tame Windows 10 and make it less Orwellian.

  11. LeeE Silver badge

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    ...systemd for Windows?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    Nope. They still sending your typing out with or without an account.

    As soon as you hit the windows key, your typing is logged. I kinda expect that on a web-browser, but not my OS.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    "systemd for Windows?"

    Window already has a proper configuration management database.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    Give us what we REALLY want: the ability to TURN CORTANA OFF COMPLETELY.

    I think I have a response / MS quote to the above. While it refers to a skype, where MS introduced (yet another) new, useless and time-wasting "feature", trying to make you "befriend" as many strangers as possible, their response is brilliant, because:

    a) it applies to any concern / request on MS application, OS or other

    b) sums up the MS "f... you!" attitude:

    ///////////////////////

    I am sorry to say this, but the discover contacts is an added feature of the new Skype application. The purpose of this, is for you to be able to easily add contacts on Skype.

    I hope this information helps.

    Regards,

    ///////////////////////

    Sounds familiar?

    p.s. to defend MS, they're no better, or worse, than any other Mega-Corporation in their approach (Google, Apple, etc.). Once you're their bitch, you play the bitch part. I hope this information helps.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Give us what we REALLY want!

    "You mean : TURN THE DATA-SLURPING OFF COMPLETELY"

    Who the fuck down-voted that??

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    "select whether you want to search inside files or not, and where to start searching from etc., with a very good UI."

    Like this: https://www.kde.org/applications/utilities/kfind/ ?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    "Why can't they bring back Windows XP search?"

    Because cloud and AI is trendy now. Especially those search assistants with girly names.

    There are many things in Windows which could have been improved. For example, the humble File Explorer could have been revamped into the likeness of Total Commander. Two panes side by side, full filepath visible. Display useful information instead of silly stuff such as 'Ratings'.

  19. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    Especially those search assistants with girly names.

    Curious they didn't choose male names like Kevin, Ralph, Juan...then again. As for the cheesey, doe-eyed Cortana images, Microsoft ought to be ashamed of themselves. I suppose at least there's few if any Cortanas and Siris in the the real world, but girls named Alexa might be well pissed off. I hear the name Adolf isn't used much these days, and that begins with A - how about it Amazon?

    And what male-ish name could Google use? "Okaygoogle" is just such a shite name, you have to wonder how far up their own arses Google's staff are to believe that people were going to use that. I suggest they rename their "assistant" something more of a persony sort og noun. Like Sgrooge.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    In the past I used "everything" (yes, that's the name of the software), but I found I couldn't be arsed to narrow the search their way, so I moved to ultrasearch, seems as fast, but....uhm... I meant, Windows-based utilities, sorry! But I don't know if they work on W10, I'm a w10refusenik...

  21. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    And what male-ish name could Google use?

    Orac ?

  22. eldakka Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Bring Back Windows XP Search

    +1 for Blake's 7 reference.

    edit: added the appropriate (I hope!) apostraphe

  23. JWLong

    I'm using Start10 to get my Win7 look and feel back. Take a look here:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HQtrbXXy_pX0GqE0DRaOIeu_7t0zRC24/view?usp=sharing

    Notice the search bar says "Search Files and Folders", that's all it does!

    I've sinkholed about 10 of M$ built in slurp addy's in my Host file, but some of their crap still gets through so I've found their secret hidden files and love spending time filling them with random crap (have to boot Linux to do this) to mess up the encryption hash. My view point is that what ever they think they can backdoor slurp will taste like shit when I get done with it!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I've sinkholed about 10 of M$ built in slurp addy's in my Host file,"

    It may possibly be FUD, but I've been led to believe that Win10 ignores the hosts file.

  25. JLV Silver badge

    even better, someone should try to take over their backend with some specially crafted and nasty fake telemetry. at least a DDOS crash.

  26. JWLong

    It may possibly be FUD, but I've been led to believe that Win10 ignores the hosts file

    Some do, they are getting more and more so because M$ has come to the realization that people where doing so.

    But not all LocalHostServices are.

    M$ is wise to people breaking their slurp and are just hard coding the IP addy in the routine itself, which lends it self to be sinkhole at my network server (lan) before it gets to the (wan).

    This is why this machine is on the Insider Fast Ring running a bit of WireShark.

    Just finished updating to build 17046, time to boot up Linux and trash some more hash's.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sigh... the glorious days when I had time to play like this :(

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    someone should try to take over their backend with some specially crafted and nasty fake telemetry

    Each to their own...

  29. eldakka Silver badge
    Holmes

    That's why I block them on my internet gateway/firewall.

  30. baseh

    Alternative

    I use Classic Start Menu in Win7 style.

    Searching cannot be easier: Window button, begin typing and presto the results pop up.

    Why should I be the guinea pig for MS UI changeling? When they try and try and don't seem to get it right

  31. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The pity of this is that it seems only us techie types are pissed off about this type stuff (data slurping). Most non-techies don't seem to give a husky rat's ass about it. They figure "let them slurp" and I'll get some ads for stuff I REALLY want and others just shrug and say "who cares?".

    The old saying about "everyone has their price" is true. It's just that some sell themselves very cheaply.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The old saying about "everyone has their price" is true"

    Hang on, if you've paid for a copy of the operating system, why on earth should the vendor still be pushing ads at you?

  33. handleoclast Silver badge
    Flame

    Everyone has their price

    @AC

    Hang on, if you've paid for a copy of the operating system, why on earth should the vendor still be pushing ads at you?

    Presumably for the same reason some people pay way over the odds for clothes, shoes and accessories that have the manufacturer's name plastered all over them, meaning they're paying the manufacturer to do the manufacturer's advertising for free. That reason being they're fucking idiots, so the manufacturer can get away with it.

    You want me to advertise your clothes? You fucking pay me, you shower of cunts.

    You want me to pay for your OS or s/w? You don't get to fling adverts at me, you show of cunts.

  34. DailyLlama

    Re: Everyone has their price

    In the same way that the Cable TV model is broken - I pay for my TV and I STILL get ads thrown at me. Wtf? One or the other Murdoch... either I put up with ads and my channels are free, or I pay the sub, and you don't get advertising revenue.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why on earth should the vendor still be pushing ads at you?

    why do dogs, etc?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Everyone has their price

    ref. free advertising on clothes: I've always been in the habit of covering, ripping off and un-stitching logos from my shell jackets, trousers and shoes, etc, but in this day and age, they f... make the logo a part of garment, i.e. very hard, or impossible to remove. Also, with no logo, you stick out like a sore thumb, and strangers look at you with a smirk, like you're trying to pretend you're NOT a plain-clothes policeman. Also, relatives think of you as a bit... you know... ah, well, my dad's a bit... weird, you know, etc.

    Actually, if you wanted 5 seconds of fame, you could buy a non-branded coat, and stitch all the well-known logos, then half the world (and youtube) would be wanting to interview you and see this REVOLUTIONARY idea (while you make a handy click-based revenue). Also, interesting if you could be taken to court for trademark violation by all those brands. Ah, the age of me-wanting-to-be-famous.

    Well, got to move these refrigerators...

  37. ma1010 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    All too bloody true!

    "By the time your feedback has been processed through SatNad's amazing Cognitive Engines, it'll do the opposite."

    Yes, any sensible suggestion relating to UI or any idea with even a hint of common sense gets inverted by MS these days so they do the opposite.

    Hmmm, perhaps if everyone bombarded MS with odes praising their fugly flat UI and said they absolutely adored the data slurping and could MS please do more of it, just perhaps they would go back to a sensible UI and stop slurping?

    Paris because MS is mostly operating on that level these days.

  38. David Lawton

    Microsoft are at the photocopiers again! This is one of favorate MacOS features.

  39. JLV Silver badge

    if they have to copy ideas anyway...

    might as well copy Spotlight's command line mode, called mdfind. mdfind is really fast since your machine's already paid the indexing price.

    Well, maybe not an exact copy. mdfind is not the friendliest of utilities when it comes to adding special search criteria, makes gnu find options seem cuddly and warm in comparison, which takes some doing.

    Then, again MS being MS, they will certainly hook it up to Powershell super-obtuse syntax* - it seems I have to look up the syntax every time I want to do something as easy as sorting a directory listing by date.

    * PS is consistent and I suspect it really flows once you get it, but that hasn't happened yet with me and I really get the impression it's aimed much more at machine consumption than casual user manipulation.

  40. handleoclast Silver badge

    PowerHell

    @JLV

    PS is consistent and I suspect it really flows once you get it, but that hasn't happened yet with me

    I was told that the trick with PowerHell is to wear out your tab key (and/or arrow key? It's been so long I forget), cycling through the choices until you get one that looks like it might be what you want (and often turns out not to be).

    To be fair to PowerHell, it makes bash's autocomplete (even if you have bash-completion installed) look a bit crude. To be fair to bash, it's far easier to remember options you use a lot so you can use a letter or two to allow autocomplete to quickly get the answer

    I tried PowerHell a couple of times. I hated it with a passion. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I couldn't bring myself to experiment for long enough to see if it was possible to drive it better.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just give us a proper local search on the Windows desktop

    Spare us your Microsoft account and cloud stuff, Microsoft.

    If we want to do online searches, a browser with a non-Microsoft search engine would suffice.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Just give us a proper local search on the Windows desktop

    How else would they get to know what you're doing?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I already found a way to turn it off.

  44. don_matese

    Remember google desktop search? if only that could be implemented without the slurpyness...

  45. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Try AgentRansack. I'm not affiliated with the company that provides it in any way (other than having had a good relationship with them when reporting bugs and helping them to reproduce them) but it's been a stalwart tool for finding stuff.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    This UI also pops up by hitting the Start button and immediately typing

    Oh ffs!

    So we start with searching inside start menu, then a full screen search window, then back to the start menu.. but with ads, and now a floating window. They don't know what they're doing! They're continuously changing the main way we interact with the shell, and not for the better.

    All this is, is a way to generate bing searches, keep an eye on what we do, make us use Edge, and blast ads at us... when all we're trying to do is start an application or search for a file.

    I just want a stable UI that stays out of my way until I need it - and keeps local things on my computer.

    Surely at Microsoft they're using something else?

  47. Not also known as SC Silver badge

    "This UI also pops up by hitting the Start button and immediately typing"

    I assume then by implication that the start menu would no longer be accessed by hitting the Windows key?

  48. Harry Stottle

    Winaerotweaker and Everything will fix a number of your complaints

    The easiest way to control most of the features you hate (or love) in Windoze is to install Winaerotweaker possibly combined with Spybot Antibeacon to kill telemetry. The solution to Search is Everything. All these are free.

    WinAT contains about 200 settings organised by functional area (eg Desktop, Context Menu, Network etc)

    Here are some of the features I personally favour:

    Disable nearly ALL the "Call Home" features

    App lookup in Store

    Error Reporting

    Web Search

    Auto update of Store Apps

    Cortana

    Windows Ink

    Telemetry

    and Block all Ads

    (although if you're still paranoid, install Anti-Beacon and remember to select all the items on the 2nd tab as well)

    Disable driver updates (the ones most likely to bork your system/s)

    Disable Windows updates easily (easiest is to set Ethernet connection as "metered") (more detailed version below)

    Verbose logon messages (so if something delays shut down or startup you can usually identify the culprit)

    Show seconds on your taskbar clock (didn't even know that was possible till I spotted it in WinAT)

    Add various to the Context menus eg

    File Hashing menu (brilliant if you a regular hash checker, which I am)

    "Kill Not Responding Tasks"

    Shutdown menu (and change default behaviour)

    Power Options

    Remove the Shortcut and Shortcut arrow from your desktop icons

    More detail on controlling Windows Updates:

    Setting Ethernet as metered will halt the update process till you OK it but doesn't control what gets delivered.

    For total blockage of Windows Updates, disable the service but if you merely wish to control when it happens and (partially restrict what gets updated)

    download wushowhide.diagcab

    It treats the update process as a troubleshooter but don't let that deter you.

    Run it when you know updates are available. Choose the "Hide Updates" option when its finished checking for updates. Tick those you do NOT want, Close the "troubleshooter".Then permit the update in the normal way.

    For even tighter control (pro users and up only) use gpedit

    /admin templates/windows components/windows update/configure automatic updates

    click enabled and choose "2 - Notify for download and auto install"

    you almost return control of the Windows update process to where it used to be pre W10

    As for Everything, I cannot figure out why Microsoft hasn't bought him out.

    It's genuinely a life changer for anyone with millions of files on their system (I currently have 7.6 million). It does what you kind of expected file search programs to do before you actually had to use one. i.e. INSTANTLY find all occurrences of relevant matches anywhere on your system. I'd really love to know how he's done it because he's clearly using the technology far better than Microsoft do. Example: I'd read someone raving in similarly favourable terms about it and sceptically thought, yeah, right. I'll try it out not expecting it to deliver.

    Installed in seconds. Told me it was indexing my system. I thought fair enough - expected it to take days (like microsoft's indexing) or at least hours. It took less than a minute for my (then) 6.25 million files spread across 16 drives/partitions.

    I didn't believe it, so I began to test it. Found files in places I didn't even know existed.

    It has vastly improved my file management by helping me to avoid unnecessary duplication and reminding me where I store files relating to arbitrary topics. Who needs the Windows Search joke?

  49. Snapper
    Gimp

    Re: Winaerotweaker and Everything will fix a number of your complaints

    Kin' hell!!

    Why not just buy a Mac and have it done for you!

    Strikes me that a lot of Windows users are secret masochists!

  50. Mint Sauce
    Windows

    dir c:\*keyword*.* /s /b

    Some variation of the above is now my go-to method of searching for files under Windows. Ever since the search indexer appeared the GUI search has got slower and more useless with each release.

    dir is now the fastest way to find a file if you know something about the name. IME, YMMV of course ;-)

    Part of me is sad that the bloated UI of windows makes this necessary. Part of me is happy it is still an option!

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