Windows Unshipped: An ambitious plan to bring Cortana and Action Center together in Windows 10 » Community

Windows Unshipped: An ambitious plan to bring Cortana and Action Center together in Windows 10

Windows Central Portal published the next article in the “Windows Unshipped” series of features and ideas in Windows 10 that never saw the light of day, although they were conceptualized, and sometimes even partially developed. In a previous post, Windows Central Editor Zack Bowden talked about unreleased features for the Windows 10 Start menu, including the Lumia McLaren-era MixView interface.

And in this article we will talk about several unrealized projects designed to modernize the taskbar and the Notification Center. By 2017-2018, Windows 10’s taskbar had too many system buttons, including Task View, Cortana, Windows Ink Workspace, My People, Action Center, and a huge search box.

The presence of a large number of system icons was a real problem for devices with small screens or low resolutions. Users had too little free space to pin their app icons. Even if some system buttons were needed, users often had to disable them to free up space on the taskbar.

That’s why development teams began to work out ideas and concepts for how to clean up the taskbar. The engineers thought about merging some buttons, turning off some of the icons, and changing the system tray to save space. Some of these developments were implemented in Windows 11, but work on them began at the time of Windows 10, when there were about 5 years before the release of the new operating system.

Control Center

Let’s start with a new pop-up called Control Center. Trying to clean up the system tray and move the quick action buttons from the “Notification Center” (more on that later), Microsoft came up with a new menu for system functions and shortcuts. Functionally, this menu resembles the “Control Center” from iOS.

The Control Center was supposed to be located in the system tray as a settings icon, indicating that it was intended for quick access to system functions and applications. The menu included quick action buttons, brightness and volume sliders, and system tray items such as Windows Security, OneDrive, and third-party app icons.

It was these developments that formed the basis of the quick action bar in Windows 11, which can be opened by clicking on the Wi-Fi, volume or battery icons in the system tray. And in the concept below, you can see what this menu might look like in Windows 10 if it got to release:

In addition, the Control Center was supposed to be the place to manage IoT devices as part of the Windows@Home initiative. The company wanted to turn a Windows PC into a hub for IoT devices such as lights, smart speakers, security cameras, and so on. Unfortunately, Windows@Home didn’t make it to release either.

Microsoft’s other system tray optimization ideas were to simplify the date and time popup. But the My People button was supposed to stay on the taskbar, as at the time Microsoft had big plans to develop this feature. Unfortunately, none of the initiatives have been implemented.

Below you can see two design concepts for Control Center for Windows 10 Mobile and Andromeda OS, as well as a screenshot of an early implementation of Quick Actions on desktop Windows:

This is what the Control Center was supposed to look like in Andromeda OS, a canceled version of Windows created for the Surface Duo in 2017-2018. The image is either an internal concept or a screenshot of a real implemented function. There is no exact information about this.
This is an internal concept of the Control Center user interface for Windows 10 Mobile. At the time, this operating system was under active development. You can see similarities with the desktop version as the feature code was shared.
An interesting screenshot of an early version of Quick Actions in Windows 10. Note the blue Windows 10 Mobile-style divider located on the left side of the pop-up menu. Screenshot shared by user @thebookisclosed.

Cortana + Notification Center

Now to something more interesting. Around the same time, Microsoft was working on a new version of the “Notification Center” based on the voice assistant Cortana. It was assumed that Cortana and the “Notification Center” would become one and be called from the right side of the taskbar.

The idea actually came from the Andromeda OS project, but there were plans to port the feature to the desktop version of Windows. In the canceled mobile operating system, you could open Cortana with a gesture from the right edge of the screen. As planned, the voice assistant had to support the interactive mode of operation.

Notifications from applications were displayed on a separate tab. At the same time, Cortana had to manage notifications and offer the user those that she considers the most interesting and important. The Cortana icon on the taskbar came to life when a new notification arrived.

It was an ambitious idea, but, unfortunately, it was never realized. However, part of the code for this function was written, since it even worked on Andromeda OS.

If you want to take a look at the unfinished versions of Control Center and implementations of Cortana with “Notification Center”, then check out the Andromeda OS article that Windows Central published last year.

In the next article in the Windows Unshipped series, Zach Bowden talks about the Continuum 2.0 feature that was part of Andromeda OS and should have shipped with new Windows smartphones based on Windows Core OS (WCOS) if the project hadn’t been cancelled.


I am Sanjit Gupta. I have completed my BMS then MMS both in marketing. I even did a diploma in computer software and Digital Marketing.

Articles: 4732

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