Microsoft Muzzles Cortana During Windows 10 Setup, Moves To Kill Passwords

The October 2018 Update for Windows 10 may have gotten off to a rocky start, but that has not deterred Microsoft from forging ahead with its next major update, which is due out sometime in the first half of this year. As work progresses on its next major update, Microsoft has made available a new test build to Windows Insiders who are subscribed to the Fast ring, and with it comes a few interesting changes.

For one, Microsoft has disabled Cortana's voice-over instructions during the installation phase, based on user feedback. This default setting applies to Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions—if you're performing a clean installation of Windows 10 Home, Cortana will still offer audible instructions during setup.

Microsoft is also "pushing forward on eliminating passwords" while promising to keep accounts safe. To that end, the latest build introduces a "cool feature."

"With Build 18305, we announced support for setting up and signing in to Windows 10 with a phone number account, without having to create, or deal with the hassle of a password for Insiders using the Windows 10 Home edition. Today, that support is extending to all Windows 10 editions!," Microsoft says.

Insiders who have a Microsoft account attached to a phone number can use an SMS text message code to sign in and set up their Windows 10 installation. Once the account is set up, they can use Windows Hello Face, Fingerprint, or a PIN (depending on the device's capabilities) to sign into Windows 10.

"If you don’t already have a password-less phone number account, you can create one in a mobile app like Word on your iOS or Android device to try it out. Simply go to Word and sign up with your phone number by entering your phone number under 'Sign in or sign up for free'," Microsoft says.

Beyond the changes involving Cortana and passwords, the latest build introduces a host of general changes, improvements, and bug fixes. For example, Microsoft fixed an issue that was causing changes to Mouse Keys settings not to stick.

One thing to keep in mind with builds in the Fast thing is that they are not as polished as builds in the Slow ring. If you're new to the Windows Insider program, you'll want to consider if you'd prefer to gain access to new features a little quicker, or if you'd rather deal with potentially less issues.