Microsoft is planning to get tough in the forthcoming Anniversary Update to Windows 10 by forcing the Cortana 'personal assistant' and search tools onto users.
Windows 10 users have had the option to turn off Cortana, as well as configure the operating system's search tools to 'tone down' the cloud-based features on privacy grounds. But as from Tuesday, that won't be allowed.
In all fairness, the upshot of this is fairly minimal. Cortana butts into your computing only if it's told to, and it's very easy for it not to.
However, the fact that it's always on means that it's always collecting metadata, and that might leave some people feeling uncomfortable.
Cortana is one of the cornerstones of Microsoft's strategy as the bot transcends the desktop to appear on Xbox, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and, indeed, anywhere that Microsoft can put it.
The logic of forcing Cortana onto people is fairly simple. Cortana is tied to Microsoft's Bing search service, and the company has gone out of its way to stop people writing programs that switch Cortana onto other search engines like Google's.
Additionally, the Anniversary Update adds the ability to talk to Cortana while your screen is locked. Functionality is limited to protect personal information, but this presumably means that it's eavesdropping all the time.
Microsoft said in a classic 'our users tell us' statement: "Customers can expect the same great search experience powered by Bing and Microsoft Edge with the added benefit of Cortana’s personality."
However, if you don't like it, or want to configure it to suit yourself, Microsoft is dramatically narrowing down the options.
Microsoft told PC World: "Cortana works best when you sign-in, but if you choose not to you can still use her to chat, search the web and your Windows device. If you like, you can also easily hide Cortana and the search box in the taskbar altogether."
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