Toshiba made an interesting announcement this week that, on its face, seems like a minor change, but in reality is a major decision. The announcement is that, "across the board, top to bottom," all Toshiba Windows 10 computers will have a dedicated Cortana button. Cortana is one of the killer new features in Windows 10, but some have concerns that her initial listening skills are problematic. For some, saying "Hey Cortana" has not triggered her to listen, forcing a manual approach. For many, though, this requires leaving the keyboard and switching to the mouse, slowing down typing progress. This is where the new Cortana button comes in.
The addition of a dedicated Cortana button will definitely improve the experience for those who have issues with Hey Cortana. The addition of a dedicated button, however, indicates more than just a commitment to customers; it shows a dedication and excitement for Windows 10. It is not a small move to add a new key to a keyboard, or a button to a tablet, especially when you are dealing with limited real estate, like on a tablet's body. This button really shows that Toshiba is excited about the release of, and features of Windows 10.
More importantly, they recognize just how important and exciting Cortana really is. Her arrival on desktops, laptops and tablets is a huge move for Microsoft, and Toshiba's showing that they agree with the move. While I have not personally had issue triggering her with my voice and personally enjoy interacting with her that way, I can see scenarios where interacting entirely through the keyboard would be a huge win. For this, a dedicated key is incredibly exciting.
This will be the biggest change to the standard keyboard since 1995, when keyboard companies began adding a dedicated Windows key to the keyboard for the introduction of the Start Menu in Windows 95. In 1995 we couldn't have expected just how essential that key would become in the future, making the computer completely usable from the keyboard if needed. Now, with the introduction of Cortana, we are in the same scenario, with Toshiba leading the charge in the new keyboard layout.