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  • Does “killing” Cortana really kill Cortana?

    Posted on December 19th, 2016 at 20:25 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PKCano has been conducting some interesting experiments. Here are her results to date:

    PRE-TEST #1: I did what appeared to be a clean install. Since we are interested in disabling Cortana, I decided to do whatever the UI had to offer in that direction: Custom install turning off all the offered settings and choosing “Not now” at the “Meet Cortana” screen. Parallels Tools installed on the reboot. This gave me Build 14393.0. Cortana was not off by default as when I initially upgraded from 1511 back at the beginning of Aug.

    Cortana “O” appeared by default in the search box.

    cortana-01

    Cortana did not present a choice to use or not use in the search box popup menu. The notebook was present.

    cortana-02

    There were many choices in the search box settings menu.

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    Cortana was a choice in the taskbar context menu.

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    There were two entries in the Task Manager that showed activity when I typed, “Cortana” and “Cortana Background Task Host.” DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were NOT present under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search. DWORD “AllowCortana” was NOT present under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Search. The keys “Windows Search” and “Search” were NOT present under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.

    cortana-06

    PRE-TEST #2: Cumulative Update KB3176495 –> Build 14393.51. Things basically looked the same, maybe a couple more options in the search box popup menu.

    Registry settings were the same.

    cortana-07

    cortana-08

    GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templets\Windows Components\Search had two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen,” both not configured. This is same as before

    cortana-09

    Now for the testing.

     

    TEST #1: GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templates\Windows Components\Search

    I set two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen” to “disabled”. Rebooted.

    Cortana “o” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-10

    The Cortana option disappears from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-11

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    Search box settings are greatly reduced.

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    I still have two Cortana entries in the Task Manager but I believe only the “Cortana” one is active when I type, not the “Cortana Background Task Host.”

    cortana-13

    In GPedit I returned the settings to “Not configured.” See this thread:

    https://www.askwoody.com/2016/win10-anniversary-update-bug-turns-into-turn-off-cortana-feature/

     

    TEST #2: Remember, the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” under HKCU are not present in this install.

    Under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows I created the key “Windows Search” (NOTE there is a space between) and the DWORD “AllowCortana” set to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-14

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-15

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    The search box settings are reduced to 2.

    cortana-16

    There is Cortana activity in Task Manager.

    cortana-17

    In each case, I am resetting whatever I changed before so I start from scratch.

    Recall that previously (see link to thread above) the key “Windows Search” under HKLM did not initially exist – I had to create it and the DWORD “AllowCortana”.

    Test #3: Under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were not present in this install. But when Cortana disappeared in the TP and in the early AU, those two DWORDs were present and the DWORD “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0.

    This time, I had to create those two DWORDs and I set both to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-18

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-19

    Cortana disappears from the search box popup.

    Search box settings are reduced.

    cortana-20

    There is STILL activity under Cortana in the Task Manager.

    cortana-21

    CONCLUSIONS:

    1. It was the settings under HKCU that caused Cortana to disappear in theTP and the AU initial releases. The other things were not present in those builds, but “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0 under HKCU.

    1. Enabling the “AllowCortana” in GPedit creates the “Windows Search” key under HKLM and sets the “AllowCortana” DWORD to 1. So basically these two things are equivalent.

    1.  Setting “BingSearchEnabled” (and maybe “CanCortanaBeEnabled”) to 0 underHKCU does the same thing. This may apply the disappearance of Cortana to an individual User as opposed to the entire computer which the GPedit settings probably do.

    1. None of these changes stop the activity of the Cortana processes in Task Manager.

    Want to REALLY squash Cortana?

    Open the Task Manager.

    Open C:\Windows\SystemApps

    Rename the folder “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy.”

    You have to stop the Cortana process in the Task Manager, b/c it’s using the folder.

    You have to be FAST FAST b/c the process restarts quickly.

    Reboot.

    The Cortana “O” still shows in the search box, but the search box is DEAD – you can’t type anything in it.

    Cortana still shows in the taskbar context menu, but the Cortana icon is also DEAD.

    Install Classic Shell and type in the search box. You get a “Microsoft Windows Search Indexer” process that shows activity.

    Don’t know what other effects this might have, but it does the job of killing the Cortana processes and removing them from the Task Manager apparently.

    cortana-22

     

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