Cortana might escape the search bar next year, float around the desktop

Windows 10 Cortana menu
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Cortana is evolving. The virtual assistant will move from the search bar to a floating icon, and start integrating herself into all sorts of Windows features.

“Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is experimenting with having Cortana float around Windows 10,” Tom Warren said, reporting for The Verge. If his reports are accurate, Cortana’s role in Windows will change massively.

Redstone is a massive update for Windows 10, with a targeted release date of summer 2016. Apparently Cortana is a big part of this upgrade.

Reports suggest Cortana will start showing up while you’re editing documents, providing you with information and assistance. If this sounds a bit too much like Clippy to you, Microsoft knows, and is hard at work at ensuring the functionality is useful. The feature will integrate with Office 365, for example, letting you know who else edited documents.

Cortana will also be given the power to control functions on your computer, like muting the volume or turning off notifications. This means you can say things like “Cortana, mute” and have it work.

Of course, all these features are just clutter if they don’t make sense to users. Cortana’s integration in Windows 10 disappointed some reviewers, including our own Brad Bourque, who felt the service was too reliant on Bing to be useful.

Giving Cortana access to more than just a search engine could go a long way toward making her more useful, so it will be interesting to see how these changes take shape. The recent creation of Cortana apps for Android and iOS could give her even more context about your day-to-day life, which should make her more useful over time.

Cortana’s upgrade isn’t the only change upcoming in Redstone. An overhaul of the notification center is underway, and apparently some sort of widget system for apps is also coming. Could this end up looking like Microsoft’s answer to the Notification Center in OS X? It’ll be interesting to see what happens.