Cortana is one of the most high profile new features of Windows Phone 8.1, which is why it can be frustrating for those outside the US. We’ve already shared the way to enable the new personal voice-assistant if you’re not in the States through our guide, but many of you want to know when (and why) she is not available now.
Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore took to answering this question and gave a few more details about their plans for the Siri competitor. As expected, one of the main reasons for the slow rollout for Cortana is to ensure a good user experience both in terms of voice recognition (including accents) and localized results for search. It’s definitely a balancing act.
“The challenge in doing this is we want the Cortana experience to be EXCELLENT for everyone -– and this involves not ONLY delivering great voice recognition for all the different languages, but also making sure that we have a great regional experience with local content so she doesn’t feel like an American!”
In terms of future rollouts, Belfiore was confident that other English-speaking countries won’t be too far behind the v1.0 release, expected to coincide with the official 8.1 release expected in the coming weeks:
“Cortana in other countries: We’re definitely working to bring Cortana to other countries. She tells us she’d like to travel. We've already announced that when we launch V1 after Beta, we'll be in China and the UK as well as the US. We're also hoping to get other english-speaking countries (eg. Canada, Australia) out relatively quickly as well… In the meantime, we're thrilled that people are trying it out in other countries and we use that data to train the system. It's helpful to get accents and hear other queries, and we can detect WHERE these are coming from to help improve the experience later.”
While we’re sure anything short of giving Cortana to everyone now will please the masses, Microsoft is certainly aware of the demand for their new voice-assistant. Let’s hope Cortana will go more global in 2014.