The Cortana digital assistant is one of Windows Phone 8.1’s standout features, delivering a blend of Siri and Google Now-like functionality wrapped in a delicious, oh-so-sassy personality. Once activated, Cortana can help you find things to do nearby, answer your questions, set reminders, and even help you plan your day.
Cortana would be a stellar addition to Windows 9, especially given Windows 8’s lackluster voice dictation support. (The OS offers voice controls, but only as an accessibility option.) Virtual assistants have largely been left to phones, but their core capabilities would be just as useful on PCs and tablets. But please, please don’t leave the microphones constantly listening for commands. Clicking an activation button in the taskbar doesn’t take much effort.