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article imageWindows 10's search could soon look a lot like macOS Spotlight

By James Walker     Nov 22, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft's testing a major redesign of Windows 10's search that introduces a new design similar to Spotlight in macOS. It's abandoning search's current home inside Cortana in favour of a floating search box that appears in the middle of your display.
Since its launch in 2015, Microsoft has made Cortana the home of searching on Windows 10. In an effort to encourage usage of Cortana, search results have been made through the assistant's taskbar search box next to the Start button. This displays items in a vertical list which is fixed to the side of the display.
Italian Windows blog Aggiornamenti Lumia discovered a very different interface hidden inside the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. Invisible unless enabled with a registry tweak, it moves the search interface out of Cortana and into its own "immersive" experience. Although the feature's still rough around the edges and clearly in development, it indicates Microsoft's new direction for Windows search.
The floating central search bar has clear parallels to macOS' popular Spotlight feature. It suggests search will soon have an expanded and more important role in Windows 10, making it easier to find files and apps you've installed on your PC. The current Cortana-driven search UI has been a source of regular criticism since the operating system's launch. Microsoft may be about to change that by copying one of Apple's core interface components.
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Searching for items in the current version of the feature displays results beneath the search bar. You can also invoke Cortana voice search, which then appears in Cortana's existing interface. Similarly, searching for Cortana commands immediately returns you to the old UI. Microsoft's evidently still working on completing the new interface so it can offer a more seamless experience.
It's expected the new Spotlight-style search will accompany a major redesign of Cortana's own taskbar presence. For several months, there have been rumours that Cortana could be moved into the notification area. This addresses other longstanding complaints about the excessive taskbar space required to keep the Cortana search bar visible. It also positions Cortana closer to the Action Center notification tray, a component increasingly used to surface proactive reminders from the assistant.
Windows Insiders running Windows 10 build 17040 can try out the new experience today by altering the registry as described on Aggiornamenti Lumia. There's no indication yet as to when Microsoft will publicly release the revised interface. As with any unannounced feature, it's possible it will be removed or significantly changed in the future. The next Windows 10 feature update is expected to release sometime in the spring.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, macos, Search
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