Ask Cortana / Ask Bing - Discussion


Hello Insiders! You have told us that you really want the Ask Cortana / Ask Bing feature in our next version of Microsoft Edge.


In the current version of Microsoft Edge, you can select text or click on an image and get a result from Cortana / Bing in a side panel, without leaving the page you are browsing.


We hear you and from your feedback we understand you would like similar contextual search functionality in a way that does not pull you out of your browsing flow.


We are investigating our ability to add this to the next version of Microsoft Edge and we would like to understand what makes this feature useful for you. 


How did you use this feature?  If you ever attempted to use Ask Cortana / Ask Bing and couldn’t get the answer you were looking for, what steps did you take, if any, to get the answer you were looking for?  


What aspects of the Ask Cortana experience do you like or appreciate?  What improvements would you like to see?


Please let us know, either in the comments below or by using the Send-A-Smile feedback. 

Thanks – Jared Brown and the Microsoft Edge Search Team

123 Replies

@Elliot Kirk 

Seems like rhetorical question or questions, Elliot. We use it A LOT to ascertain info about something, whilst we are doing whatever on a particular page that we like not leaving to grab a wee piece of info... if we want more then, we can go from Cortana to Bing.  It's a great feature, same as other currently existing Edge features we want kept!  Having a brief panel instead of leaving the page is, also, brilliant.  Ellipsis stuff in Edge C should be the same, as it is, currently, with Edge.

All this why & what for or how is it used every time we have to say, "Hey, another something we like, use & want kept is missing" feels like a silly waste of time.  By now, it is clear what we want, ie what, already, exists.  The items are used as they can be used, as they were designed & intended to be used. (DUH)... Taking time over all that, it still, comes down to VERY simply... need to leave Edge features alone & INTACT!  We should not have to be asking & begging for everything, in the first place.  And then, on top of that having spell out the obvious... if A LOT of people didn't like, want & use the stuff, the ways & reasons the stuff was meant to be used, they wouldn't be pleading for the stuff... just put the stuff in without taking time, wasting time to make us talk about the obvious over & over, again.  Time's a wasting!!

And put Share up on the toolbar beside Add notes.  Put things right, put things the way they are currently loved & supposed to be!



Please consider all of the features in "Ask Cortana" from the old Microsoft Edge. Plus, please support this ability on PDF files also, along with the define prompt tooltip in PDF files....:)

It may be clear what YOU want but you shouldn't speak for everyone else. The fact that you and others like a feature and use it a lot does not mean that others do, that new users of Edge would, and that Microsoft should invest any resources into re-implementing it. Sometimes you are in a niche with your preferences. That is why I think it's absolutely right for the Edge team to evaluate each feature - this provides the chance to both discontinue features that are not used enough (and focus on new, possibly better features in the process) or perhaps even identify some shortcomings of the feature, so that when it comes back, it can be even better.

Personally, I thought the sidebar with search results was a very nice feature for quick glances without needing to open a new tab. It's not a necessity for me but I think I'd like it if it came back.

With these discussions, I see Elliot asking "how do you want it?" and the response is "we want it!" Obviously, as the developers are rebuilding these features from the ground up, recreating the exact same thing wouldn't really be faster, or better, than iterating on it to make something better. When I first tried out Edge, I was floored by the genius implementation of many features like the Edge Hub and Download Manager. Obviously, I would love to see them return - but that isn't to say they were in some perfect, unchangeable form. Nothing could be more true than with Ask Cortana.


How did I use the feature, and why didn't it work for me? Well, I didn't ask cortana, to be honest. I used the "Search for web for" tool instead. There are a few reason for this.

First, my web browser of choice is Google. Sure, Bing is a good search engine, but I don't like it as much. Whether this is because I've spent years signed into a google account, whether it's because I'm used to the way Google search terms should be worded for optimal responses, or because, maybe, they use subliminal brainwashing techniques, (I'm kidding about that last one, of course!) I'm usually asking Google instead of Bing.

Second, I felt like Ask Cortana was severely hampered by Edge's pane-ful design scheme. Yes, panes are great for many things: The Edge hub (favorites, history, etc) and Set Aside Tabs are ideally accessed in a side panel layout. Panes that have a ton of information, such as the Settings pane and Ask Cortana, are difficult to read and use. I don't know the real reason for this, but the reason doesn't matter: Cortana shouldn't be in a pane / side panel, and with the design choices being made in Edge Insider, it fortunately doesn't have to be.

Third, and most important, is the fact that I can't edit my search terms or search style. Let's look at an example:


I want to know about possible bugs introduced with the newest version of Edge, build 18363. I'd rather not type out 18363, so I select the text and Ask Cortana. After asking cortana, I would want to type the text "bugs in Edge " to create a full search of "bugs in edge build 18363". This applies to almost all my searches, whether I need the "definition" or "images" of a character in Skyrim. Instead of being able to edit my search term directly, I have to scroll to the bottom of the page and choose "Search for (something) on Bing". That's just clicking "search the web for", but with extra steps.


So, why would I want to "Ask Cortana" instead of searching the web? Well, opening a new tab, getting a small piece of info, and then closing that tab feels a bit clunky. A popup window that can be transformed into its own tab or window, where search results can be refined, and where any search engine can be chosen, would be great.


To conclude, Which search results would you rather have?



(The screenshot within chrome is a cropped image of the fantastic Black Menu for Google extension. Sadly, Black Menu doesn't search from the right click menu, (I faked it here) so I rarely use it.)


I want to say a few more things that are their own standalone ideas.

First, Ask Cortana/Ask Bing feels a lot like an extension, not a core part of a browser. It's tied to one tab, it doesn't use Fluent Design well, and Cortana is not a major part of Windows 10 any more. However, "letting extensions handle it" is what led me to dislike Chrome. There are a lot of extensions I've learned about just from reading other posts on this forum, and wish had come with the browser itself. However, none of them blend well with Edge or each other. I also don't know how dedicated their developers are, or how stable the code is. Having great navigation tools and perks built into the browser means I don't have to read through dozens of poorly researched "top ten chrome extensions" lists, delving into each extension's overcomplicated settings pages, and learning a completely different layout style for every feature. And finally, if "Search the web for" is going to be a built in part of the browser, I shouldn't have to install a better version of it.


I also want to mention that I'm treating "Ask Cortana" as completely different from Cortana's automatic "helpful tips" from the address bar.


@Elliot Kirk 

Hi @Drew1903@Rohit Yadav and @adrianghc,

Thank you very much for your feedback. 

First, I'd like to assure everyone that these are not rhetorical questions and we are listening very closely to understand what worked well, and what didn't, in our legacy product, so we can make sure any investments we make in the new Microsoft Edge, are the best they can be.  

Moving to Chromium means that some of our legacy features may have to be re-implemented or redesigned.  It's not true in every case but it is true in many cases. When a new implementation is required, rather than immediately jump to the identical design from the legacy browser, we'd like to make sure we are implementing full and complete solutions. 

The more you can help us understand how you used the legacy features, what you liked about them and where they fell short for you, the better we can be at designing a complete solution.


Thank you for the examples you have provided so far! Please keep the feedback coming!

- Jared


P.S. Thanks @Elliot Kirk for posting the original message on my behalf :)

@WolfIcefang great feedback on wanting the ability to refine search queries! 

@Elliot Kirk 


>>"we understand you would like similar contextual search functionality in a way that does not pull you out of your browsing flow."


That's exactly how I use it while I do online research and writing. I want search that I can scroll down and does not open another tab. This tends to break my concentration. Ask Cortana is an amazing tool. 

@JaredB81 @Elliot_Kirk @Talon_38c 

Words such as handy, helpful, efficient, time-saving & convenient very much apply to both of these & more/other things.

Add notes & Share: It is appealing to be able to have something within the browser that does all this offers. Whether sharing what you have grabbed, or 'modified or keeping it for yourself for later (Save or OneNote) or printing it, it is a wonderful utility.  It's a joy not having go to an outside (the browser) tool or 2 to do the same actions.  So nice, too, that if talking w/ someone can share something from a mutual interest page or segment, in real time so quickly and easily, because it's built right into where you are looking. All needed to do so much right at ones fingertips.

Ask Cortana: Same as others are saying... often, without interrupting what you're doing/viewing, can view at the side what may well be enough info... without, actually, going to a search page per se... unless, turns out to necessary to dig further or deeper.  But, to take a quick look without leaving the page is great.

Both of these things are used a lot for all they can do & offer because they are so useful & enhance smooth productivity.


@Elliot Kirk 


I like the Ask Cortana just the way it is implemented in Original Edge.  Hi-light something, right-click, choose "Ask Cortana", and you have a slide-out from the right with results.  I'm fine with that.  It was one of my most used things in Original Edge.  

@Elliot Kirk 
Cortana search behavior
Ask Cortan return results in Context i.e. how old is Donald Trump,  Cortana responds vocally with "Donald Trump is 73 years old, born Jun 14, 1946 in New York City borough of Queens"  and then open the Bing result panel within the Edge browser with text/image return search information.  

Bing only search behavior

When using Bing just open the Bing result panel within the Edge browser with text/image return search  information.


@Elliot Kirk 

In regard to search, Bing, Cortana, Edge & Win10, people may find it very interesting, informative/enlightening & exciting to read THIS.


@Elliot Kirk 


On a related note, one thing really useful for me in the current version of Edge, is when I write in the address bar for something like:
"300 usd to eur"
"weather/time in Rome"
I can see the result straight away in the address bar

@JaredB81 thanks a lot for your reply. It is really a good decision to review the features that the people use, & implement only them in the new version of Microsoft Edge...


The "Ask Cortana" should be re-implemented in whole as it used to exist in the old version of Edge. Highlighting a text, & asking Cortana should invoke her, & should present the related info. There can be various use cases, say for example:

1. I want to get the definition of a word, so I highlight the text & choose to ask Cortana, & she presents the definition just like it would on the PC, or mobile app.

2. I want to get any info, so I quickly highlight the text, & ask her, after which she would present the related info. 

I think after the search, an option should be included to help us reframe our search in case Cortana isn't able to answer correctly in one go.

As for the position, whether it should be in pane or other portion of the screen, I think it should be in a pane, so that it does not takes you away from the page or the pdf file open.

This feature should be applied to all aspects of the browser like browsing pages, in Immersive reader, & also when a PDF file is open.


In my earlier comment, I mentioned including the quick definition popup while reading books & pdf files. If Cortana is implemented, then I guess there is no need to include that feature.


That's all in my feedback for the "Ask Cortana" feature.

Thanks! :)


Ah, very good point.  Can put math 'questions' & all sorts of things, too.  It's Bing, really, of course.  You raise another good point, at least with Edge... the address box is, in fact, both for URLs and it's Search, too.  People oft times forget that it is both.  Bing will give results for whatever is put in there.  Edge #2 sort of does it/the same, but, not as well or exactly the same way as Edge #1.  Edge #1 does it much more & better.  Put the same in each, results are quite different and differently presented.  Edge #1 gives the answer, Edge#2 gives search (page) options or offerings, various links, depending what was inputted. But, your point is absolutely valid.


@Elliot Kirk 

I too was a big fan of Ask Cortana. The reason it's better than the "Search with Bing" option is because it doesn't take you to a new page. It gives you smart (Cortana-powered) results in a floating sidebar.


I think I've given this example elsewhere, but one time I was reading a pdf of a friend's post-grad level paleontology paper. Needless to say, it involved a lot of dinosaur names and other technical words not in my everyday vocab. Ask Cortana was a huge boon. I would highlight a term, Ask Cortana, and info complete with images and definitions would fly out on the right side of the screen, while not navigating me out of the pdf viewer. I would get the gist of what was meant, and then continue reading the paper. It was brilliant. It was also unique to Edge. In a landscape awash in browsers, especially Chromium browsers, Edge needs Microsoft-only features like Ask Cortana to help give it the "edge" it needs to compete (sorry, couldn't resist).

@Elliot Kirk 


I was on one of the original threads for this.  I want the full Cortana to work like it does now in "Old Edge".  From there I want to look at features that can be added.


On a side note - STOP REMOVING CORTANA FROM THINGS!  Don't take down the iOS and Android apps for example!  There are people that use Cortana or that would like to add skills and then use it.  Point is - add features don't take them away.

@Elliot Kirk 


The Ask Cortana feature added personality and resourcefulness to Edge. I used it a lot. Cortana also had a different search method than just opening a new tab and searching Bing, that got me the answers I wanted quicker.

I completely agree with you! I use Cortana and love her personality and usefulness.


"Words such as handy, helpful, efficient, time-saving & convenient very much apply to both of these & more/other things.", Drew

Much of the above ties simply to the idea of grabbing a quick bit of info about something on the page where one is without actually leaving that page to a maybe unnecessary full search page.

The bold text is what makes MANY people like it, use it a lot & want it in Edge C.


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Hello Insiders!


Thank you so much for your feedback. We are excited to announce sidebar search - the first step in our evolution of contextual search in the new Microsoft Edge. 


You can find more details about sidebar search in this post -



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