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Earlier in the week, Microsoft released a Windows 10 19H1 build to Insiders with some new features for Insiders to test. Within this version, the company seems to be stepping away from its Cortana voice assistant through a change to its place on the taskbar. Some Insiders testing the new build observe that Search and Cortana actions, once intertwined to enable search with voice activation, are now separated on the taskbar.
This is being interpreted as a signal away from Cortana as an integral part of Windows 10. Another sign is Amazon’s Alexa’s place in the Windows 10 Microsoft Store, which can lead to speculation that 19H1 will allow the use of other voice assistants. Hacker Albacore seems to think so, in a tweet showing his exploration of Voice Activation settings in the Permissions of 19H1. He wrote that revised permissions allows users to “be able to configure permissions for Voice Activation using keywords/hotwords.”
This keyword setting for voice assistants could open up the ability to wake certain assistants installed on a Windows 10 device. In theory, you would no longer be locked into asking Cortana to search something; you could simply call out for “Alexa” or other assistants, presumably while your device is locked, as well.
Other changes we could see with 19H1 are default tabs in task manager to streamline monitoring, some new icons, start menu improvements, console updates, and more accessibility options, many of which Microsoft has already detailed.