How Cortana Show Me is changing the face of tech support

Cortana Show Me
With Cortana Show Me menu items are automatically highlighted as the cursor moves over them, which is surrounded by a halo

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3 July 2018 | 0

Yes, Cortana is still not available in Ireland but it’s worth noting that new features are being added all the time and that when it does go online there are a bunch of features you’ll have that you might not know existed. One of these is Cortana Show Me, a controller that can handle the kind of basic user frustrations that come with setting up a new PC or migrating from one OS (like Windows 7) to another.

Most advanced users won’t need to use Cortana Show Me. In general, if you’re familiar with the Windows 10 Settings, you’re already familiar with what Cortana Show Me can do. This is an app for users who can navigate Windows, but need some help diving deeper into what Windows can do.

It isn’t the most thoughtful of apps. It’s a rather dull collection of boxes at the moment, and there’s no introduction to welcome you. Upon opening it, it displays a handful of the most common tutorials, along with a list of categories at the bottom to dive deeper.

The magic of Cortana Show Me is that it doesn’t just appear that the app is moving your cursor – it actually is, even putting a little halo around it to make it easier to see. Virtually every tutorial begins with navigating to the Settings menu by way of the Cortana search box.

If Settings is already open, Cortana Show Me will navigate through to the appropriate submenu. As Cortana Show Me navigates through the steps of, say, how to change your background, you’ll see what to click and what choices you’ll have to make. Each tutorial tends to last less than a minute, ending at about the time you’ll need to take some action, such as selecting the appropriate Wi-Fi router from a list of nearby devices.

What tutorials does Cortana Show Me offer?
Microsoft says there’s about 50 or so tutorials available within the Cortana Show Me app, subdivided into a list of categories:

System:

  • Change your volume
  • Change your power settings
  • Change your display brightness
  • Change your screen resolution
  • Change what notifications you’re getting
  • Turn on Night Light
  • Find your version of Windows
  • Personalize your lock screen
  • Rotate your screen

Devices:

  • Add a nearby printer or scanner
  • Change mouse settings
  • Connect to a wireless display
  • Discover Bluetooth devices

Network and Internet:

  • Change your Wi-Fi settings
  • Set up a mobile hotspot
  • Turn on Airplane mode

Personalisation:

  • Change your background

Apps:

  • Change your default apps
  • Check if an app is installed
  • Uninstall apps or programs

Ease of Access:

  • Turn on high contrast
  • Turn on Magnifier
  • Turn on Narrator
  • Turn on the on-screen keyboard

Time and Language:

  • Change or add languages
  • Change time settings
  • Update and Security
  • Activate Windows
  • Back up your computer
  • Run a security scan
  • Turn off Windows Defender Security Center
  • Turn off Windows Security
  • Update Windows

How could Cortana Show Me be improved?
Adding voice controls to future versions of Cortana Show Me demonstrates that Microsoft considers the app to be a work in progress. Probably the most important work that needs to be done is to integrate it more tightly within Windows, so that a novice user can easily find it if they get stuck. (If they do, Microsoft can add a tutorial about downloading and installing apps from the Store as well.)

At times, Microsoft seems paralysed, torn between placating a user base that demands constant improvement without altering the familiar way in which Windows works. But encouraging new users to find their way within Windows is an important responsibility, too.

With Cortana Show Me, Microsoft has built a framework that could be pushed as far as it likes. Some, content works better within the framework of a video, such as creating a detailed scene within Paint 3D. But simpler creative tasks, such as dropping an augmented-reality dinosaur into a photo taken with Mixed Reality Viewer, is well within Cortana Show Me’s capabilities.

For now, though, Cortana Show Me serves an important niche: freeing you up from playing tech support.

IDG News Service

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