Last week the first elements of Windows Timeline appeared on Build 17040 in the Redstone 4 development branch and now this week an Italian Windows website is reporting that a new search interface for Cortana is also available in this latest build for the next feature update heading for Windows 10.
Aggiornamenti Lumia provides details about this new search interface that moves the integrated search that is normally part of Cortana’s interface when opened from the taskbar and moves it into a floating window that appears in the middle of your desktop. The keyboard shortcut WIN + S will open up this new search interface once a tweak is made to your registry on Build 17040.
WinAero has instructions for manually editing your registry to activate this hidden feature plus they have pre-prepared registry files that will simplify turning this feature on and removing it
WARNING: Editing your registry is risky business so be sure to have a backup just in case something goes wrong. If you do not know how to backup your registry then you should probably not be making changes to your registry.
In the past when these types of new features were uncovered in a testing build of Windows 10 it was usually just a couple builds later that we see it activated and ready for use/testing by all Windows Insiders. So if you are uncomfortable with the idea of editing your registry just hang tight as this feature will likely be turned on in the near feature.
As you will see in the gallery images below, this is a very immersive search experience with filters to select between the items Cortana looks among for your results including local and internet based items.
I attempted to move the window around the screen but that is not possible at this stage and just click anywhere on your desktop outside of the search window to close the process down.
I also noticed with this tweak activated, that if you have Cortana’s search box turned on for the Taskbar that this floating search box will not work. However, it will show up if you have Cortana on the Taskbar as an icon or hidden. Clicking on the Cortana icon on the taskbar also opens the search box in the middle of your desktop instead of the standard Cortana interface on Windows 10.
That means access to some of Cortana’s features might not be possible since they do not appear in the floating search window. If this is to be Cortana’s new permanent search interface maybe we will see her take up residence in the Action Center instead of next door to the Start Menu.
Gallery: Cortana Floating Search Interface on Windows 10 Redstone 4 Build 17040