Microsoft released its first Windows 10 build of 2019 yesterday, focusing mostly on improvements to passwords and steps towards removing them. But one significant change may have gone unnoticed in the list of fixes provided by the company - Cortana is being disabled by default in the out-of-box experience (OOBE) in some editions of Windows 10.
As noted in the blog post from yesterday, the assistant's voice guidance for the setup process will be disabled on Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education (emphasis is ours):
Based on feedback, if you clean install Pro, Enterprise, or Education editions of Windows, the Cortana voice-over will be disabled by default. Screen reader users can still choose to start Narrator at any time by pressing WIN + Ctrl + Enter.
Microsoft initially introduced Cortana in the Windows 10 OOBE in the Creators Update, as it attempted to make the experience more inclusive. The reason for this removal likely has to do with the fact that IT professionals, who often have to set up multiple machines at a time, don't want to be interrupted by a wave of "Hi, I'm Cortana" on all of those devices at once. A YouTube video demonstrated this in action back in 2017. While this is good news for IT pros, it looks like Windows 10 Home users will still get Cortana's guidance, at least for now.
Microsoft is apparently working on other ways to make Cortana less intrusive, with a recent patent showing that the assistant may soon be able to recognize quiet commands, such as whispering.