Microsoft is making a change in the way Windows 10 users will be able to search using the built-in Cortana search box.
The change is immediate, effective today, April 28. Microsoft will be notifying Windows 10 users of the change starting later today. Existing users won't have to take any kind of action for the change to occur; it will happen on the back end.
Users who search from inside their browsers on Windows 10 -- whether it's Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or other -- won't be affected by today's change. They'll still have the option of using any search engine of choice on their browser of choice on Windows 10.
The change is only going to affect those using Cortana directly to search and/or those using the Cortana search box that's the default on the task bar in Windows 10. In those cases, any and all Web searches will use Bing and Edge exclusively starting today.
Microsoft's rationale for the change is the company is building more and more integrated search experiences involving Cortana and Edge, and the company wants to guarantee a consistent end-to-end experience there.
"Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana. The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can't depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser."
What kind of end-to-end experience is Microsoft trying to provide by requuiring Cortana/Bing/Edge?
Here's an example. Searching for "Rattle N Hum bar" using the built-in search box in Windows 10 yields this result on Edge:
The results include built in directions to the closest location, hours, reviews, and more.
Microsoft is planning to continue the work it has done to make the Cortana/Bing search experience more tightly integrated with the Windows 10 operating system. But making Bing and Edge the search default combination is the only way to guarantee users would experience this the way Microsoft is designing it, officials said.
Microsoft has been integrating Bing into more and more of its products over time. Recently, the company's Bing search business finally crossed the profitability threshold. As Microsoft execs noted during the company's most recent earnings report, the search capabilities built into Windows 10 contributes significantly to the post-sales monetization Microsoft is achieving with Windows 10.
Microsoft also is looking to get more users to adopt its Edge browser. In part because of lack of support for extensions -- a capability coming this summer with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update -- uptake of Edge probably hasn't been what Microsoft had hoped.
I figure those reasons also are behind Microsoft's decision to direct more Windows 10 users to Bing and Edge, too.
For anyone predicting Google will fight this kicking and screaming, it's probably worth remembering that Microsoft and Google just agreed to stop taking their brawls to the antitrust courts.