Hello Readers, I hope you’re well.

I was having a debate with myself as to whether it is better to have the Cortana push-to-talk button on the main screen of an MTR on Windows, or the Present button.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Microsoft has made some changes to the touch screen interface on MTR recently. Some very useful. Some a matter of opinion. I will leave the useful for another post and probably video. This is about Cortana vs Present.

In the old UI, there was a present button on the main screen next to New Meeting & Dial Pad buttons

In the new UI, by default, there is a Cortana button next to Meet & Call

You can still get to the Present button if you tap …More

For clarity, the Cortana button is basically a push-to-talk button that immediately engages Cortana without having to say “Hey Cortana”.

The Present button tells the MTR to present, and relies on you having a PC plugged in to the content ingest mechanism. This could be wired or wireless depending on the system and vendor. If nothing is connected, you get a warning on the Front of room screen telling you to plug the cable in to something.

The debate I was having is whether you need either button.


Do you need it? It depends. MTR has a useful setting that enables the MTR to automatically present when you plug something in. Just enable Automatic Screen Sharing.

There could be times where you don’t want to automatically present.

One I can think of is you have stuff on your screen you don’t want people to see. And you want to wait until you have what they should see on top before presenting. But if you plug in, you intend to present. So why not just plug in when you’re ready? Why connect, then have to press the present button on the touch screen, which might not be in front of you.

Another is you present something, then have to go find something else which means you have to browse OneDrive to find it. Folder and file names could be sensitive, so maybe you don’t want to show everyone. So you might want to stop presenting temporarily.

If you have auto screen sharing enabled and you connect your laptop and you want to stop presenting temporarily, you can always tap More and Present to stop presenting. Then you browse around to find what you want to present, and hit present again. Or you could just unplug or turn off the wireless sharing thing, and connect/turn on when ready.

Personally, I think making the present button less prominent is fine. But it could also be down to a user training thing. Having a Present button front and centre tells users they can present. Then if they haven’t plugged in, the warning telling them to plug in could be useful.


Why do you need a Cortana button if you can just say “Hey Cortana” to do the same thing? Not everyone can say “Hey Cortana”, for one. So it might be an accessibility thing. Having a button is only useful if you can see it, or know where it is so you can tap it. For that situation, having the wake word is key.

You can actually change the behaviour of Cortana. You can, by policy, enable or disable the Hey Cortana wake word detection, or disable it entirely.

You need to create a new policy, or change an existing one by using New or Set-CsTeamsCortanaPolicy. Then you can decide the behaviour by changing the Cortana Voice Invocation Mode parameter.

As it says here, if you set the parameter to disabled, it completely disables Cortana and puts the Present button back on the main screen. This means you have no push-to-talk in an idle state or in meetings. And it also means there’s no wake word detection. Cortana is just disabled.

If you want to disable Cortana, run the following to create a new Policy

Then grant the policy to the Meeting Room account

After you restart the MTR you get the present button back on the main screen

If you don’t want Cortana and want your present button back, there you have it. But you lose Cortana. And I think Cortana is useful. So consider it carefully.

What other options do you have?

You can disable the wake word by policy. This leaves the present button in More, and Cortana on the main screen. But you have to press the button to use Cortana.

You can leave the wake word enabled and leave the button on the main screen, and you can temporarily disable Cortana completely. Just hit more, and toggle the Cortana switch off.

And you will still see Cortana on the main screen, but greyed out.

You have to go in and enable it again to get the icon and functionality back.

Should there be more options?

Possibly. Such as

  1. Leave Cortana enabled with or without the wake word enabled, but move the button to More and move Present back to the main screen.

Remember, having the button on the main screen just means you can tap Cortana to make it do something while not in a meeting. Like call a room or user by name, or start your next meeting. You can still say it. And you can still see the button while in a meeting.

If you need to push the Cortana button from the home screen would it be bad to have to hit more first?

2. Put the Cortana and Present buttons on the main screen

There is room for it. But what about when you have something in the calendar? Having the calendar there makes the buttons go 2×2. But again, there is room.

Particularly if you move everything up a bit. That’s better.

So there are options.

3. Give admins and users more choice and make it easier to mix and match

I like this one. Let there be more settings in settings to enable or disable Cortana. Enable or disable the wake word. Decide if you want the Cortana or Present (or both) buttons on the main screen, or in More. And this one is key. Have a toggle that users can set which disables wake word detection, but leaves the button. And if you want to make things temporary, have a time out which enables wake word again so its ready for the next set of users.

All of this is debatable. There’s no right or wrong. There’s education and there’s business and user choice.


It seems Microsoft has been listening. They announced a new update on the roadmap that will give everyone what they want.


Teams Roadmap

As you can see. Microsoft is planning to restore the present button to the main row. But then rename it “share”. Which is fine. So we’ll have Meet, Call, Share and More at the top.

But they still want to give the people that like or need the Cortana push-to-talk button. So rather than hide it under More which makes. I sense given the purpose. They are moving it to the bottom of the Home Screen.

Lower left at idle

Lower middle when there are meetings in the calendar

I hope this has been informative. And do let me know if you have any comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.