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Microsoft Forces Cortana and Google to Break Up

April 29, 2016, 5:03 PM UTC
A laptop computer featuring Windows 10 is seen on display at Microsoft Build in San Francisco
A laptop computer featuring Windows 10 is seen on display at Microsoft Build.
Photograph by Robert Galbraith — Reuters

Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana will no longer play nice with Google.

In a blog post on Thursday, Microsoft announced plans to block any workarounds that enable Cortana to use a search engine outside of Bing. Other search providers that will no longer work with Cortana include DuckDuckGo and Yahoo (YHOO).

Since its release, Windows 10 users had found methods to change the Cortana’s default search engine. Typically, users would set Google’s Chrome browser as the system’s default browser and then install a third-party browser extension to change Cortana’s behavior.

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Going forward, whenever Cortana is used the digital assistant will stick with what it knows best: Bing and Microsoft Edge.

“Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana,” the post states.

As a result of using outside search providers, Microsoft (MSFT) argues Cortana’s effectiveness in returning personalized search results is hampered. “The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing – all designed to do more for you,” the company explained.

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Microsoft included some examples of what’s possible when Cortana is used along with Edge and Bing. One example highlights how Cortana can surface coupons to Best Buy after searching for the retail store and using Edge to view the results. Another example details typing “Bluetooth not working” into Cortana and Bing before returning a Windows 10 troubleshooting video in an effort to help the user fix any issues.

To be clear, users will still have the option to set a default browser outside of Microsoft Edge. Users will also have the option to set a default search engine within Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer, but any interaction with Cortana will now go through Microsoft’s own browser and search tool.