Cortana in Action – #WindowsInsiders Webcast

To all who were able to attend, thank you for joining us for the Windows Insider Webcast showcasing Cortana!  We enjoyed showing you some of Cortana’s great features and how she can be your intelligent assistant across your life.  It was a lot of fun demonstrating Cortana on the PC, phone, and speaker (Harman Kardon Invoke, available for $99 at the Microsoft Store).  As a follow-up to the webcast, we wanted to highlight some of the great features we showed and share reference links to provide additional information.  Getting to interact with Insiders and take your questions was great.

If you were unable to attend the webcast in real-time last week, you can also check out our video-on-demand replay, available here:

Windows Insiders are helping drive the future of Windows, so keep sending feedback.  It’s important to us!

All the best,

A.J. Brush, Lee Dicks Clark, Farhaz Karmali and Shreyas Sundararaman on behalf of the Cortana team.

Cortana icon

Focus Assist (RS4 Windows Insider Builds)

Lee showed how focus assist can help when you don’t want to be interrupted or just need to stay focused on what you’re doing? Be more productive with Focus Assist.

  • Turn focus assist on and off via the Quick Action in Action Center.
  • Focus assist will automatically turn on when you are duplicating your display. Never get interrupted during presentations again!
  • Focus assist will turn on automatically when you are playing a full screen exclusive DirectX game.
  • You can set the schedule that works for you so that Focus assist always on when you want them. Go to Settings > System>Focus assist to configure your schedule.
  • Customize your own priority list so that your important people and apps always breakthrough when Focus assist is on. People pinned to your task bar with always break through!
  • See a summary of what you missed while you were focused.
  • If you’re using Cortana, you can also have Focus assist turn on while you’re at home.


Lee showed the power of cross-device mirroring to your PC so you never miss a phone notification.

Cross-device notification mirroring only supported on Android.

  • Install Cortana on Android on your phone.
  • Sign into Cortana on Android with the same MSA on your phone and on your PC.
  • In your Cortana on Android app, go to “Settings” -> “Cross Device”. Turn on the features and give Cortana permission to access.
    • If your PC is not two-factor authenticated, you will also receive a notification on your PC asking you if you want to see your phone messages on this PC. Make sure you click “Yes” on the notification and follow the steps to enable.
  • Things to try:
    • Get a missed call. Try replying directly via text on your PC.
    • Get a text. Tap to open the message and see your full text history.
    • When your phone battery is low, get a notification on your PC.
    • In Cortana on Android, go to Settings > Cross device > Choose which apps to sync. Choose other app notifications that you want mirrored on your PC.

Cortana Lists & Collections

Pick Up Where I Left Off – integration with the activities in Timeline

Cortana Commands

Suggested Reminders

Email & Calendar

Cortana is the only assistant on a speaker device that will give you a quick overview of your inbox so you can stay on top of new emails. You can ask to hear specific ones out loud and take quick actions, like replying.

Both the Calendar and Email skills work with O365,, and Gmail accounts. These new skills are available on PC and Speaker so that you have a consistent experience across all your devices.


A.J. showed checking her email and sending a quick reply.

Things to try:

  • What new emails do I have?
  • What new emails do I have since yesterday?
  • What new emails do I have from [insert name]

Cortana has the richest calendar experience, she can answer a breadth of questions about your calendar, just ask about events on a specific day or meetings with a specific person. She can even tell you what your first or last meeting of the day is. For example,

  • What’s my last meeting today?
  • what meetings do I have tomorrow?”
  • A.J. also used the microphone button on the PC to quickly add a meeting.  You can do this hands-free using speech as well.


Farhaz showed music on speaker and PC both when you are logged in or computer is locked.

  • Lyrics
    • Hey Cortana, play the song with the lyrics knees weak arms are heavy
  •  Mood
    • Hey Cortana, play some chill music
    • Examples: chill, focus, etc.
  • Activity
    • Hey Cortana, play some workout music
    • Examples: workout, running, relaxing, etc.
  • Latest by Artist
    • Hey Cortana, play the latest album from Drake
  • What’s Playing
    • Hey Cortana, what’s playing
  • Cross Device
    • Start Music on one device with same Spotify account
    • Go to other device and just say “Play music” or “Play Spotify” and it will resume where you last left off automatically

Connected Home

Shreyas showed how you can access connected home using Cortana on your PC, speaker, and phone.

For example

  • Turn on/off the lights
  • Set the brightness to x%
  • Change the lights to green/any other color.
  • Set the temperature to x.   (We also support queries like “Make it warmer”, or “Make it cooler”)

IFTTT Applets that he used can be found here.

GLAS thermostat page on by Johnson Controls is here.

Ambient PC

A.J. wrapped up with some far-field speech commands showing how you can talk to PCs with the appropriate microphones from a distance and then jump right into a task.

  • What movies are playing at [movie theater].   Then A.J. used touch to get show times.
  • Show me mac and cheese recipes.   Then we picked out something Jason liked.

Finally A.J. used “Lock my PC” and showed how Cortana works above the lock (with opt-in).

Contact US

If you have additional questions or feedback, please contact us:

Twitter – @WindowsInsider
Answers –  (Cortana sub-forum)
Feedback Hub – (Cortana Feedback)