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Cortana, IE Pushed Aside as Windows 11 Focuses on Features People Want

Windows
(Image credit: Microsoft, Shutterstock)

In the hype surrounding Microsoft's Windows 11 announcement, most of the focus has been on what's new. But according to the company's official specifications page for the operating system, quite a few features of Windows 10 will be going away as well, or at least being moved from the head of the class to the back of the room.

The Cortana voice assistant will no longer be a part of the initial boot experience (hooray!) or pinned to the taskbar. Internet Explorer will come disabled by default (huzzah!) in favor of Edge. The Software-restricted S Mode will stick around, but now will be available only on Windows 11 Home, whereas previously it was also a part of Windows 10 Pro.

For those with convertibles and slates, Tablet Mode is also going away (along with Live Tiles), to be replaced by "new functionality and capability" when a keyboard is attached or removed. Timeline, the feature meant to let you continue where you left off as you move across Windows devices (but mostly just felt like a creepy record of your Windows activity) is also going away, though Microsoft says "some similar functionality is available in Microsoft Edge."

Lesser changes include the old version of the Snipping Tool being replaced by the newer Snip & Sketch (though apparently under the old name), Microsoft Wallet getting the axe (did literally anyone use that?) and Quick Status, which displayed info on the lock screen, getting the boot. The full list of Windows 11 "Feature depreciations and removals" can be found here.

All in all, it looks like most of these changes and removals will likely be well received. But of course, much of the new Windows experience depends on what replaces the features and functionality that is going away. For much more on that, see our Windows 11: Everything You Need to Know story

Matt Safford
Matt began piling up computer experience as a child with his Mattel Aquarius. He built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last decade covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper and Digital Trends. When not writing about tech, he’s often walking—through the streets of New York, over the sheep-dotted hills of Scotland, or just at his treadmill desk at home in front of the 50-inch 4K HDR TV that serves as his PC monitor.
  • BillyBuerger
    The Cortana voice assistant will no longer be a part of the initial boot experience (hooray!)
    Oh thank goodness. The cortana plus default volume of 60 or something means sometimes I would step away from a computer while installing windows only to have Cortana blaring through the house or office when it got to that point. It had me very close to defenestration many times. And of course the first thing I do on any PC after first login is to turn off the cortana/search item from the task bar. So these things being off by default will help save my sanity.
    Reply
  • punkncat
    There are two things about this that make me particularly happy.

    One of them is the "back of the class" aspect for Cortana. I have had to go to great lengths in order to keep that stupid pop up from hitting every 90 seconds on a couple of builds. Just absolutely refuse to stay behind the scenes. I would LOVE for it to go away.

    The other is that they will continue Snip and Sketch, even if just in name. I use that feature daily. So much easier than print screen and edit.
    Reply
  • punkncat
    BillyBuerger said:
    the first thing I do on any PC after first login is to turn off the cortana/search item from the task bar. So these things being off by default will help save my sanity.


    The FIRST thing I do on a current (10) install is to remove OneDrive. Then I go after Cortana.
    Reply
  • v2millennium
    I hope Quick Launch toolbar won't be completely removed.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    punkncat said:
    The FIRST thing I do on a current (10) install is to remove OneDrive. Then I go after Cortana.
    It's terrible. If you ever log in to OneDrive, it's a pain to remove it afterwards without losing your files or something. OneDrive should be removed from the system, install on demand.

    In fact, so should Teams, and Edge, and all the bloatware built inside an operating system. Make Windows integrate nicely with them IF they are installed, but let us choose, right?
    Reply
  • Giroro
    RIP snipping tool.
    Snip & Sketch is just an objectively worse way to do the exact same thing. (Slower, more bloated, launching the app opens a giant window that always covers anything you want to snip). I don't like waiting for a "smooth" animation to "roll" in when I just want to get in-and-out as quickly as possible. I'm just guessing, but I bet there is some good reason that Prtscrn has continued to have a dedicated keyboard button for the last 30 years.

    It's like when they added that "slot machine" animation every time an excel cell updates. It might only take ~100ms, but that really adds up when you have to wait for the computer play the animation on 10,000 cells every time a value changes.

    Or maybe its more like when they replaced picture viewer with photos. It does almost the same thing, but more resource heavy (despite less support for obscure image formats). Also, they bogged it down with animation.
    It's never a good idea to slow down a utility just to make it "prettier". But if your artist insists, then at least let the user decide how responsive they want their computer to feel.
    Reply
  • escksu
    salgado18 said:
    It's terrible. If you ever log in to OneDrive, it's a pain to remove it afterwards without losing your files or something. OneDrive should be removed from the system, install on demand.

    In fact, so should Teams, and Edge, and all the bloatware built inside an operating system. Make Windows integrate nicely with them IF they are installed, but let us choose, right?

    Yes fully agreed. There are many things which a mainstream home user does not need. I don't use these apps:

    Cortana, onedrive, spotify, xbox live, phone, and several others. Hence, its a PITA that I have to remove them after windows installation. Xbox live cannot be removed via normal means as well (need powershell)....so its kind of dumb
    Reply
  • Mandark
    punkncat said:
    The FIRST thing I do on a current (10) install is to remove OneDrive. Then I go after Cortana.
    I love one drive that’s where all my stuff lives
    Reply
  • slurmsmckenzie
    I clicked on the 'full list of Windows 11 "Feature depreciations and removals" can be found here' link provided but got an MS page telling me:
    We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.The URL may be misspelled or the page you're looking for is no longer available.
    The URL was very long and had some kind of session ID maybe? I trimmed it back to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11-specifications and it worked fine, just had to scroll down to the "Feature deprecations and removals" section.

    No mention of Notepad not being there which is good, thought I'd read they were making that something you have to get from the Store (and therefore have an account for?) - unless this is already happening in 10 and therefore not a change for 11? Hope not.

    Not sure I like the sound of "Apps can no longer customize areas of the Taskbar", had to get 7TT to be able to have "No labels, never combine" on Win10 as the tweak for Win8 no longer worked, I do hope 7TT will work in 11. Removing this kind of basic customisation is an example of MS behaviour that I cannot understand and really ticks me off. You can bet that you'll find a bunch of people complaining on answers.microsoft.com, all of whom will be told to submit a "feature request" if they want back something that was really useful and taken away for no good reason. Of course the request will certainly be ignored, no matter how many people vote for it.

    I've only just moved to 10 from 8.1 (which I personally had no issues with, once I tamed it and installed Classic Shell) and I can't see myself wanting to move to 11 for any reason soon. Just hope it isn't shoved down our throats like 10 was, such that you have to be on constant alert to make sure it isn't installing itself when you're not looking (or even when you are). Having said that, it was vaguely possible to fend off Win10 from 7/8.1 because at that point the "GWX" KBs were separate and could be blocked (I think). These days.... hmmmmm.
    Reply