Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant is making its way to Android and iOS soon, but the software giant has no plans to bring it to Mac. While you might be waiting a long time to see Cortana appear on your MacBook officially, Parallels is bringing the digital assistant to life today inside OS X. Parallels version 11 includes full support for Windows 10, and with it the ability to run Cortana on your Mac. Running virtual Windows machines inside OS X isn’t new at all, but Parallels is using its special coherence mode to allow Cortana to activate itself without the rest of the Windows 10 UI getting in the way.
You’ll need a full copy of Windows 10 to make use of the feature, installed in the Parallels virtual machine, but you can then activate the "Hey Cortana" option so that the digital assistant is always listening for search queries. This allows you to shout "Hey Cortana" while you’re using regular Mac apps like Safari and Mail and Cortana will pop up in the middle of the OS X dock. Like Windows 10, it’s a neat trick to quickly find out the weather or football scores, and it worked fairly reliably in my limited testing.
Parallels 11 also includes performance improvements for booting and shutting down Windows, alongside battery improvements. A license for Parallels 11 is $79.99 per device, or $49.99 if you’re upgrading from version 9 or 10. If you’re on an older version then be prepared for no updates to full support Windows 10, as you’ll need Parallels 11 to use the coherence mode.