With Windows 10 1803, Cortana will search the web, whether you want her to or not

Arif Bacchus

Cortana is one of the core areas of Windows 10, and it can be used to search for your files, apps, and the web. Unfortunately, not everyone likes Cortana searching the web, and up until now system administrators could tinker with group policies and disable the search the web functionality entirely. Well, it looks as though Microsoft is backing away, and in Windows 10 version 1803 Cortana will search the web if you want her to or not (via Reddit.)

According to the Reddit posting, users running Windows 10 Pro version 1803 (Redstone 4) can no longer enable the additional “Do not allow web search” and “Don’t search the web or display web results in Search” policies. This essentially means there is now no “safe” and “official” way for Windows 10 Pro version 1803 users to prevent Cortana from doing web searches, though they can still “hack” the registry to block it.

This may or may not be a bug, but many users in the Reddit thread are upset by the news. “Frustrating and infuriating behavior from MS. If I didn’t play games I would have switched to mac years ago,” complained one user. And, “I absolutely can’t tolerate Windows if Cortana and integrated Bing web search can’t be disabled. So sad about this,” said another user.

Windows 10 Education and Windows 10 Enterprise users running version 1803 are not impacted and their administrators still use these policies to block web searches in Cortana. These are both much more expensive versions of Windows, which may not be a good option for small businesses who value privacy and won’t want Cortana to search the web.

Anyway, there is currently a Feedback Hub thread for the subject, and it will be interesting to see if Microsoft has an official reaction. We’ll be keeping an eye on the news, so best keep tuned for more in the days ahead.