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"Cortana, you're fired!"

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New Member
Dec 4, 2011
Satan's Colon, US
Cortana has left the building.

I went back to Windows 7. That was my solution to the original problem. I would mark the thread [SOLVED] if I could. I'll go through this thread and clear out my posts that are distractions from the original intent in the hope that some of the very good information here will be easier to find. I originally had a legitimate desire to regain some of the control over the OS that had been lost or hidden in Windows 10. After a couple months of frustration and ongoing changes by M$ I gave up. After I take out my trash I'll be unsubbing from the thread and moving on. Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread and their great efforts to help me and everyone else with these concerns. Windows 10 is a viable option for a lot of people. As time marches on it will be the only option for some people. This thread will be a valuable and relevant resource, but I no longer have anything constructive to add to it. Thanks again for all the help and efforts put forth here.

Not so fast, there buddy. It seems this thread is mine and I can't abandon it. Like an errant child, I just can't give up on it. And I may have to install W10 in a dual boot, if for no other reason than the DX12 improvements to World Of Warcraft. So this thread isn't dead, but it is old and takes frequent naps.

edit on 3/7/17: M$ has actually taken a (half) step backwards on updates. The "Windows is a service" BS still keeps me from using that God forsaken dreck known as Windows 10, but this is a (late, slow) start. https://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft...ooze-indefinitely/#ftag=YHF65cbda0?yptr=yahoo

After going to bed and leaving my computer to download a huge game file W 10 updated, restarted :)mad:) and turned back on all the things I turned off when I installed it. I would normally prefer to not clutter up my SSD with third party programs for tasks I can probably do myself. In this case I'm asking for suggestions or recommendations for the best all-in-one app to shut down all the annoying "features". I figure there are enough people here who have tried most of them, so this where to ask. I attempted to kill Cortana in Task Manager, but she rises from the dead instantly like some binary zombie. I want Cortana off because of the gathering of data and sending it back to M$. The Anniversary Update was a curve ball in the process and made things more complicated. I hope the synopsis below helps make it easier for folks. Thanks to everyone who pitched in to help.

New Update! 1/16/2019 It appears Windows 10 no longer has Homegroup, and connecting it to a Windows 7 network is giving an error https://windowsreport.com/invalid-handle-error/ The fix is here https://allthings.how/fix-the-handle-is-invalid-network-error-in-windows-7/ with thanks to Johan45 for this one.

New update! 12/5/2018 How to disable Activity History Permanently! From the good guys at Major Geeks.

9/4/2018 How to get more control over when Windows 10 updates (New!)

05/26/2018 How to Stop Windows 10 from Downloading Drivers-http://www.majorgeeks.com/content/page/how_to_stop_windows_updates_from_downloading_drivers_on_windows_10.html

05/26/2018 How to Delete Pending Updates -http://www.majorgeeks.com/content/page/how_to_delete_pending_windows_updates.html

Important News!!! the following was brought to our attention by Arkade, and I feel it should be looked at and addressed by our little group of W10 Ninjas. I'll quote his post (#672, found here https://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php/773926-quot-Cortana-you-re-fired!-quot/page34 ) The text is as follows. My responses, and further info can be found following the link and reading the original post. I'm trying to brainstorm an appropriate and effective response to this development. Please add any contributions to the thread there. When a fix is found, and confirmed, it will be posted here in the OP, to continue making this thread's solutions as accessible and easy to use as possible with search engines. The Fix! Kill its task in Task Scheduler. The discovery and solution both come from Arkade. :thup:

adding on, appears Microsoft has added NT TASK\Microsoft\Windows\rempl\shell in the task scheduler along with an update, this application makes a autostart at 10am(including waking the computer) and seems to increase "reliability of updates" simply by changing update settings if you attempt to mess with them.... wow microsft, i'm amazed, explains why me settings keep going back to enabled for auto reboot and stuff. recommend disabling these in task manager if you are using with winupdate minitool

it call the program here C:\Program Files\rempl\remsh.exe

has a config with the folloing info

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-16"?>
<Task version="1.4" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/windows/2004/02/mit/task">
<Principal id="LocalSystem">
<Actions Context="LocalSystem">

NEW! 11/26/17 I found this yesterday. MSMG Toolkit lets you build an install .iso of your favorite Windows OS (If it's 7/8/10) stripped to the bone or just a few pet peeves removed. Mild to wild, your choice. Here it is http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/msmg_toolkit.html
Watch the video at the bottom! It covers a part you'll need Rock on. :clap:

New Addition Thanks to wagex for this link https://github.com/crazy-max/WindowsSpyBlocker/wiki/dataHosts If you don't have the equipment or know how to stop all the little nasties from phoning home, via your router in your Windows 10 install, you can copy and paste to your Hosts file. Yes, Windows 7/8/8.1 are listed there, too. You didn't think M$ just started this game with W10, did you?

New! 10/24/17 More from wagex! It ties in with the hosts file links above.

link on how to configure pfblocker for those who have pfsense but havent used pfblocker https://www.tecmint.com/install-conf...ng-in-pfsense/

edit 8/2/17: This thread is now over one year old and M$ is still finding new ways to treat their customers like garbage. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordon...otix&partner=yahootix&yptr=yahoo#3337e4a34031

UPDATE: 8/31/17 Forced driver updates. From this thread https://www.overclockers.com/forums...o-driver-won-t-stay-rolled-back-in-windows-10
Wingman99's fix in its entirety here:
Don't do a rollback, follow these instructions:
-Let Windows Update install the version of the driver it wants to, and do not uninstall it
-Go to device manager (devmgmt.msc) and find your device
-Right-click on it, and hit "Update driver software"
-Click "Browse my computer for driver software"
-Click "Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer"
-Select the version of the driver you want

So far it is working, however if I uninstall the Realtek app in Apps Microsoft reloads everything.
This was an audio driver issue, but the basic procedure should hold up for most drivers. Feedback or corrections always appreciated.

edit: OK. I have gathered some info from this thread in an attempt to make the OP a little more relevant to the title. They're listed from the most recent first.
From c627627, Anniversary Update info

I can't remember if this was knoober or Audioaficianado, but this is how to enable the hidden Admin account in Windows 10. You'll want this info.

updated links from Kenrou :thup:

UPDATE/NEW LINK 9/1/17 from Kenrou with additional thanks to Earthdog. :thup:

Updated links for the 1st page (none of mine are working) : Fixed and updated with new links. These are how-to





This is a useful tool


Want to take the 'Edge' off default browsers? Here you go.

Useful programs

How I Turned Off Cortana in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update http://www.2020techblog.com/2016/08/how-i-turned-off-cortana-in-windows-10s.html
Disable / Turn Off Automatic Updates In Windows 10, Here’s How http://www.redmondpie.com/disable-turn-off-automatic-updates-in-windows-10-heres-how/

I just did these using gpedit.msc. I'll see if it sticks.

Anyone checked if this still works : To turn off ads in the Start menu, thanks to Culbrelai for this.
It's Settings (Windows 10 app) -> Personalization -> Start. "Occasionally show suggestions in Start"

To stop W10 from phoning home with your data, thanks to c627627 for this easy Comodo Firewall tutorial
Comodo Firewall

Double click on Setup.exe to install the program > OK > UNCHECK everything > STOP!!



> Back > Next > STOP!!

** UNCHECK everything **
Do not change DNS settings
Do not change search engine provider to Yahoo!

> Agree and Install

Comodo Firewall will immediately start behaving crazy-restrictive, immediately import any saved configurations if you have them:

Right click on the Comodo icon in the task bar > Open... > Tasks [upper right] > Advanced Tasks > Open Advanced Settings [lower right] > Configuration > Right click on empty white window > Import > Browse to previously saved configuration settings file > Open and wait and allow for it to be imported, then right click on the imported configuration > Activate > Yes > OK > OK


Otherwise, ignore alerts and immediately start setting your custom configuration:

Right click on the Comodo icon in the task bar > Open... > Tasks [upper right] > Advanced Tasks [lower left] > Open Advanced Settings [lower right] >
General Settings [upper left of the Advanced Settings window] > User Interface >
UNCHECK: Show messages from COMODO Message Center
UNCHECK:�Show welcome screen on startup
UNCHECK: Show desktop widget
UNCHECK: Play sound when an alert is shown

Updates > UNCHECK everything

> Security Settings > File Rating > File Rating Settings > UNCHECK everything



This contribution by kenrou explains why you may want Cortana off

"The core reason why you may want to turn off Cortana in Microsoft Edge is privacy as your browsing data is sent to Microsoft if Cortana is enabled in the web browser (which it is by default)."

"Everything you type in the address bar or search box is sent to the default search engine regardless of whether you hit enter or not."


And last (for now) third party software for dealing with W 10 privacy issues, provided by kenrou
Theres several tools to change the settings and at least two kept it changed for me, try Windows Update MiniTool 1st. Small 3rd party program to replace your Windows Updater, works much faster to download/install and changes a few system settings. If it doesnt work try O&O ShutUp10, it enables/disables pretty much everything Win10 spyware related and several security settings.


These links describe a method that does not apply to the current build, and are only effective on builds prior to 8/2/16, and will be negated if your build is updated past that date (Anniversary Update). It requires updates to be turned off. This is the only method I have tried personally, and it works. Please bear in mind I'm going to install W7, so I haven't tried anything beyond my first effort to solve the problem in the OP.


There have been contributions by a bunch of members to this thread. There have been quite a few detours, though. I had no idea it would go 17 pages. I figured someone would throw a couple apps at me and that would be the end of it, but then we had the Anniversary Update problems and it was off to the races. I have no objections to a mod throwing out the irrelevant posts to clean things up, and I'm one of the prime offenders at going off script. :chair:

Since I started this thread, I'd like to thank everyone who pitched in. There are bits and pieces throughout that help create a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of W10, Cortana, and how we can make it more what we want.

As of 9/14/17 this is the new Windows Insider Program Agreement- https://insider.windows.com/en-us/program-agreement/?OCID=WIP_r_Body_terms
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Im sorry, Cortana is a synthetic intelligence, You cant kill a synthetic intelligence by closing it from the task manager..
I have the solution for win7 and 8 windows10 popups and auto update, But not for your problem, Sorry :-/
Yeah, I already reset updates to let me schedule when they install. There are several (dozen) programs out there for dealing with the privacy issues in W 10. I was hoping some folks who have used a variety of them will chime in with easiest/most effective, etc., options. And I want something that will smack Cortana in the head with a digital shovel. LOL
The only help I can give is to use a third party app for backups. I havent ever been able to get Windows Backup to do its job so Ive pretty much always used one and the one I chose works in Win10 as well. There is a list of usual suspects for this and Macrium Reflect is usually the top of thst list when anybody asks. I skipped Macrium just because it didnt "fit my personality" and chose Easus Todo. There are other "pay-for" options that work quite well I believe, but I cant speak for those as I havent used them.
After going to bed and leaving my computer to download a huge game file W 10 updated, restarted :)mad:)
Given this real world example... why would we not want to turn off windows 10 automatic updates and update Windows manually when *we* choose to? Why would we have auto updates ON and risk this happening on Windows 10, ever?

After going to bed and leaving my computer to download a huge game file W 10 updated, restarted :)mad:) and turned back on all the things I turned off when I installed it.
Windows 10, sooner or later, will reset your personal Windows modifications. You will *only* have Windows 10 set up with Microsoft defaults...
You cannot permanently modify Windows as you choose - only temporarily. This is one of the MAIN differences between Windows 10 and Windows 8 and earlier.
If you so much as visit Windows 10 update page, your Windows modifications could be GONE for good and replaced by Microsoft defaults. This depends on how long it has been since your last update. If a major build had been released since your last update, then all your modifications will be gone.

I would normally prefer to not clutter up my SSD with third party programs for tasks I can probably do myself. In this case I'm asking for suggestions or recommendations for the best all-in-one app to shut down all the annoying "features". I figure there are enough people here who have tried most of them, so this where to ask.
After one year of Windows 10, I found an app that can do everything you are asking.
It's called Windows 8. :)

But you could ask for help here, one issue at a time.

I attempted to kill Cortana in Task Manager, but she rises from the dead instantly like some binary zombie. I can't get in the "How wonderful W 10 is" thread so I'm asking here. Thanks in advance. :)

edit: Any hints on getting W10 to store back ups on a different drive would be appreciated, too. It doesn't seem to like my extra drive and refers to it simply as 'Storage Space'. LOL

* Click inside the search box > [three lines in upper left corner] > Settings > Search online and include web results: OFF [repeat for each computer account]

I will be installing Windows 10 anniversary edition when it comes out in two weeks on a brand new system, and I will keep my eye out on any new ways they came up with to force Cortana to stay up.
I *will* find a way to disable them and will let you know.
I'm looking forward to that, because it did it again. I left town for a couple days and it was downloading the same game file (30 GB) and scheduled restarts for 3:00 AM on Sunday. I returned and it updated, restarted, and reset everything the way M$ wants it. I'm about to spend the money on a new W7 disc and wipe this cancer from my computer.
What version of windows 10 did you get when you purchased it, was it 1511? If it was the earlier version it would of updated your version and reset all the defaults.
....it updated, restarted, and reset everything the way M$ wants it. I'm about to spend the money on a new W7 disc and wipe this cancer from my computer.
That is "normal" Windows 10 behavior.
You cannot install a major new Windows 10 build without it wiping off your major Windows OS modifications.

I would recommend Windows 8 + Classic Shell since Windows 7 will reach End of Life in 3.5 years, so you would get extra time with Windows 8, and Classic Shell would make Windows 8 UI identical to Windows 7.

Windows 10 is not for people who like to modify Windows.
My approach will be to identify which of the modifications are hosed after a major update.
Then see how doable it is to create a quick scripted re-modification after Windows 10 updates.
I have no idea which build. It's W10 Pro x64 and it's changed all my settings back three times now. And I really don't like Windows 8. I was going to give W 10 a fair shot, but so far this OS sucks. A lot.
Every major Windows 10 build resets Windows 10. That is a major problem for us Windows 'modifiers'. Identifying what is reset is the only possible solution. Time consuming but possible.

With Classic Shell, Windows 8 is Windows 7.
Windows 7 expires in 3.5 years.
Windows 8 expires in 6.5 years.

You can install an identical Windows 7 Start Menu and identical Windows 7 start button in 30 seconds.
You can make the Start Menu *better* than in Windows 7.
And you don't have to worry for 6.5 years.

But you should be 100% comfortable and install Windows 8 when Windows 7 expires in 3.5 years, instead of now... ;)
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Windows XP is a special case because of Point of Sale machines.
Windows 7 is not and will expire in 3.5 years... ;)

The difference (most people complain about) between Windows 7 and Windows 8 is the Start menu.
This can be fixed 100% and fixed quickly.

The difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10 is inability to control updates and consequently inability to modify Windows.
Much harder to address.

You really don't have to go with Windows 10, but in 9/10 cases, only people who didn't spend any time with Classic Shell, choose Windows 7 over Windows 8.