Hey, Cortana: You’re supposed to be making life simpler—at least, when helping people use Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows 10.
But noooo. Microsoft just had to muck things up. In a Tuesday blog post, Marcus Ash (who bears the unwieldy title of Group Program Manager for Cortana and Search on the Windows PC, Phone and Tablet Group), revealed that the Cortana UI—that blue, pulsating halo—now expresses 18 different moods, and half of them are inscrutable. Just like a human being.
In fact, if you look closely at the chart of Cortana’s emotions, above, half of the “mood rings” look exactly alike. You can’t really tell which emotion she’s expressing. So, now we can’t just ask Cortana to do something without also having to wonder, Did I just embarrass her? Is she laughing at me or with me?
But we at PCWorld are here to help. Here’s our guide to the 18 moods of Cortana to help you interpret exactly what she thinks of your stupid request.
Is your being suffused with calm? So is Cortana’s, if you see her halo looking like this.
Do I feel lucky? Cortana does, if she has a lighter ring outside a darker ring on her halo. Got that?
Cortana won’t let you forget, as long as you can remember what this halo pattern means.
4. Title Flip
Change is exciting, and Cortana clearly enjoys her title flips as much as the next personal digital assistant.
5. Sensitive V2
Awwww Cortana cares! This is Sensitive V2, not to be confused with Title Flip above, or Sensitive V1 later in the list.
OMG Cortana can’t believe you just said that! But don’t you think this icon actually looks more like Title Flip?
It’s Cortana’s turn to say hey! She’s ready! Are you?
Finally, a Cortana mood ring that actually kind of looks like what it means.
9. Need More
Sooooo…..this is similar to Abashed, but why? Sorry, but ya gotta give me more than that, says Cortana, or I can’t answer your question.
Cortana’s so happy, her inner halo is a bit narrower at the top, maybe kind of like a balloon.
YESSSSsssss good job, Cortana! Her Satisfaction halo looks just like Title flip halo and the Sensitive V2 halo and the Optimistic halo, but she’s still pretty darned proud of herself.
May Cortana help you? Please, it’d be no trouble at all. If you see this halo, she’s dying to be of service to you. Unless she’s just Satisfied or Sensitive.
13. Music reco
We’re guessing “Music reco” means Cortana’s ready to get down. That’s certainly what this big-talkin’ halo says to us, anyway. Or it says Iggy Pop. Same difference?
This icon reminds us of Iggy Pop, too. In any case, we don’t know why Cortana has two haloes that mean Optimistic. Maybe she’s a glass-half-full kind of personal digital assistant.
Say whatever you want to Cortana. She’s all ears. Or, she’s Optimistic or Considerate.
16. Sensitive V1
We’re all sensitive in different ways, and so is Cortana, apparently. Sure, Sensitive V1’s halo looks just like the one in Sensitive V2, but the underlying message is totally different.
Now you listen up, Cortana has something to say! And we’ve noticed that the three icons for Speaking, Reminder, and Music reco all have a light inner halo and a dark outer halo, and all the rest are the opposite, so that must mean something.
Hmmmmm……now why does Cortana’s Thinking icon look the same as Satisfied, Considerate, Optimistic, and Sensitive V1 and Sensitive V2? Just like with people, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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Melissa Riofrio spent her formative journalistic years reviewing some of the biggest iron at PCWorld--desktops, laptops, storage, printers--and she continued to focus on hardware testing during stints at Computer Currents and CNET. Currently, in addition to leading PCWorld’s content direction, she covers productivity laptops and Chromebooks.