Microsoft restricts Cortana on Windows 10 to Bing and Edge

Cortana is Microsoft’s version of Google Now and Apple’s Siri digital assistant. It’s built right into Windows 10 and, while I’ve generally not found it all that useful, it’s a core component of Microsoft’s attempt at making its operating system smarter. Starting today, whenever you use Cortana to do a search on Windows 10 that would typically take you to a search engine in a web browser, you will only be able to use Microsoft’s Bing search engine and its Edge browser.

Until today, you could choose which browser and search engine you wanted to use, but Microsoft is now changing this. Why? It’s all about giving you a better search experience (and surely has nothing to do with getting a bit more market share for Bing and 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,” Microsoft says in today’s announcement. “The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable.”

To some degree, that’s true, of course. Bing does offer some features that aren’t available on Google, and Microsoft wants to tie its operating system, personal assistant and web-based search engine closer together. And some search hacks that moved Cortana searches away from Bing and to other search engines probably made Cortana less useful.

All of this is really more about Bing than Edge — and Bing isn’t exactly restricted to a specific browser. Still, Microsoft argues it’s all for the good of the users.

“The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can’t depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser,” Microsoft writes. “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.”

Personally, I don’t like it when an operating system restricts me from using it in whatever way I want to. I don’t use Edge as my default browser, so a program that opens it by default — with no way of making a change — is mostly an annoyance.

You can, of course, still set any browser and search engine as the default in Windows 10 — all of this only applies to searches from Cortana. It’s still annoying.