Hands on with Cortana and Lenovo REACHit

Hands on with Cortana and Lenovo REACHit

Yesterday's hands-on event with Lenovo's Yoga 900 and the Yoga Home 900 showcased some pretty, user-friendly hardware. But one of the most interesting demos was software-based. Lenovo and Microsoft have teamed up to offer Cortana with REACHit and the result is a new, improved search experience that lets you find any digital asset anywhere on any of the computers you've looped into your REACHit experience.

I sat in on a demo with Lenovo's Jon Heim, a product management director in the contextual computing group, and we ran through a series of Cortana queries on his computer to see exactly how Cortana plus REACHit works. Here's the good stuff, in a bulleted list:

REACHit and Cortana-- If you say, "Cortana, find me all the photos I shared with Rich in Starbucks this morning," you'll get accurate results. This means that Lenovo Yoga users will be able to search for files depending on: file type; when they're accessed; who they've been shared with; and where they were last accessed.

-- If you say, "Cortana, show me all spreadsheets I've shared with Rich and Marcia," the results will show the documents that you've chosen to share with users named Rich and Marcia.

-- Results aren't just limited to one computer: the list of files Cortana produces after a search will also tell you which machine the file resides on -- or which cloud storage service the file lives in (depending on whether you've given the okay to REACHit to access your cloud-based storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive). One query that Heim did showed spreadsheets that lived on a different machine than the demo, plus a OneDrive account, plus a Dropbox account, plus a Gmail account.

-- Not only can you find the files, you can also open them and work with them too.

-- Cortana and REACHit are linked to a person's account, not to a specific machine. This means you can't see who's been searching for files with shared ownership.

Heim confirmed that results are dependent on enabling location data in your preferences for Cortana, and in other apps. 

But the idea that you'll be able to use a natural-language query to find specific files is a very alluring one, especially for users who have multiple computers and cloud-based services where they've got files stashed.

As of now, Cortana and REACHit are available only for Windows 10 computers. Heim's prohibited from saying much more, but it's worth remembering that Lenovo's also got tablet and mobile phone lines of business. Keep an eye out to see where Cortana and REACHit turn up next.

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