Cortana to launch in China and UK for version 1, other English-speaking countries soon after

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.

Belfiore responded:

“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.

Source: Reddit

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Yes, China is very English speaking.
  • Exactly!!! Not being anit-china or something, but how is it logical that china gets an update in the first release but not India where many Windows phone users are very well versed in English!!
  • 1.Cortana is supported by Bing. 2.Bing has a seprate team maintain Bing China. The Bing China has it's own localized content and channels. 3.Microsoft Research Asia has 10+ years experience in Chinese voice recognization. 4.Actually the Cortana Chinese beta has more localized content in 'Interest' than USA, such as stars, lottery, movies, hotest web video. All of them are corresponding MSN/Bing China channels.
  • So true, bing china has more feature than bing us. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • And...China will soon own the world!
  • Nahhh where is the Netherlands ? :(
  • The truth
  • It's about the volume of the user base not the country.
  • So explain the UK?
  • China's cellphone base is the biggest in the world,so it makes sense to launch Cortana there first.
  • Because they speak English?
  • What is there to explain, we speak English here in the UK. Explain the US?  Oh, I get it you were just trolling!!!
  • No, he was just a bit dim and probably meant to say why the delay in UK - ditto Aussie New Zealand South Africa etc
  • Then India should get it too. As we know is the second or third country being fan of windows phone.
  • Yes, it should have been India. Not China. India is massively English speaking and huge when compared to China. Don't see the point. At all.
  • Damn it India is easy for them ! Just use the UK English set for us, but give us local stuff ! Indian english is mostly identical to UK, with very minor accent problems for me. Give us cortana !
  • Given some of the Indians I know, I'm not sure about "minor" accent problems. That said plenty of British people have indecipherable accents as well. I reckon the problem is more about having enough local data more than anything else. The UK has always been a good market for MS so it makes sense to bring it here after the US. MS do seem to be focussing more on India lately though, it's a growth market just like China so i would expect it to come there not too long after nonetheless.
  • Is it wrong that I read your comment in a very stereotypical Indian accent?
  • If you have had pretty great chats with the guys at a BPO, then you can read it in our variant. Haha
  • To be fair they could release it in India as well as China and the UK.
  • +1
  • I suspect when they roll it out to any particular country they do it not when they can support not just one official language, but ALL of them. Which is why I'd iike to know if Canada was specifically mentioned, because I suspect we (Canada) won't be included with the other English speaking countries rollout because we also have a regional dialect of French that would have to be included at the same time.
  • would it?
    Do they support lousiana french when they roll out in the USA? I get that french isn't an official american language... but they don't have to support all official languages. They should make language support available in an area soon as they have captured the regional dialect, they shouldn't wait for nearby dialects and langauges to also be captured.
  • I could be wrong, but perhaps there are actual legal requirements to offer both offical languages in Canada.  We're weird like that.  And I hope I'm wrong.
  • More people speak English in China than the UK. Due to the large population.
  • Urm... But remember as there is a bigger population in China, that also means there is a chance that there I more people who don't speak English... As I doubt that everyone in china speaks English :) I'd say there was about the same amount of people who speak English in UK and China
  • Just so you know, we also wanna a local voice assistant, or an alternative between Chinese and English, due to we can practice English in the meantime.
  • Not quite. There are millions who CAN speak English in China, but hardly more than UK
  • Saddest part of the whole "Cortana" story is that it will take very long to implement it in a global scale(depending on current pace) and by the time it reaches, it may not be the "Attraction factor" which windows phone desperately needs to expand its market.
    So its like one tiny step forward and 10 huge steps backwards.
  • There are more English speakers in China than there are in the UK, Australia and Canada combined.  In the next 10 years, China will overtake the USA. In the USA they don't speak "full" English instead using a cut-down form of "pidgin" English with a severely restricted vocabulary.  In English speaking countries the average vocabulary is over 30,000 words.  In the USA it's closer to 12,000.   This makes it easier to develop software for.
  • No there ISN'T - a common misconception. Theres plenty LEARNING English, thats where this is from. But hardly "speak english" Usual PC bullshit
  • If you can get your head around how big China is, you will also know there are millions of people there that are not Chinese. Probably more than a couple english speaking countries combined. India is fine with english too but the point is there are western people in China.  I'm pretty sure more than India no offense.
  • 1st in China? :/
  • No love for India..
  • Seriously! I turned Cortana on for some time. She seems so good at recognizing my accent. I was disappointed at the lack of local features and how every rupee turned to dollar that I switched back. It was as if my phone was putting hints that we are not meant to be.
  • I couldn't switch back as my phone would lose all the charm if Cortana is gone..but I am missing local apps also..
  • I love Inida. Will that do? Come on you Jajastan Royals!!  
  • What else can you expect ? You're using something meant for American market
  • I love Cortana because she comes with the automatic quite hours which is very useful being a college student. Just I hope there was an toggle for vibrate everytime you reject a call.
  • Sure...lets say this'd be done in a year..? Or two? No?
    Well..then what about countries like India where windows phone have very good number of users?
  • It's a big country, with a lot of people, a variety of dialects in terms of local language and a lot of different accents when speaking English. What may work for one Indian may not work well for the next. That's why they are putting time in to it, to ensure the best user experience.
  • And China won't have this issue, how?
  • Because China has only Chinese. India has many languages+ as many accents
  • While i do agree we have a multitude of languages floating around, please lookup at the number of variants around the Chinese language. They are technically sometimes even too different from each other
  • Exactly!
  • @Daniel rubino, when it will come to India, I am from india
  • We need Cortana here in the Philippines!! Why? We are the best English Speakers here in Asia!!!
  • Lol..
  • Actually the english is our second 'national'/official language aside from our dialects. But I cannot say we are the best in asia.
  • Everyone has their right to claim..... Change your region and Yo! you got it in Philippines!!!
  • Finally, a way to get Cortana on my 8X in the UK. Unfortunately, European HTCs don't have the United States English language booted in the ROM, so we just have to wait for Cortana to come to us.
  • Serious? Damnn... I for one am glad that microsoft bought nokia, even though Brazil was one of its biggest markets the time they took to launch new products over here was just unacceptable. Microsoft on the other hand seems to like us Portuguese speaking countries :) Hopefully Cortana will come pay a visit to us all very soon!  
  • Any word on South Africa?
  • I'm using it in South Africa, other than the rather lacking local business searches (It can find the closest KFC) it works pretty well. I've been using Windows Phone with my region and account locked to the US so I've been getting all the features. Local apps are also available in the store. We'll probably get it by version 2 or something, but switching your region to the US should fix that  
  • Really? I couldn't get the nearest KFC or McDonalds. The interest thing doesn't work(it sucks cause I really want that feature), and most of the local things don't work. I hope we get it relatively soon.
  • They could at least open up features that are baked into the OS that at the moment can only be accessed via Cortana eg quiet time. This is a great tool but you can only access it by having Cortana enabled
  • Not to sound like a typical Americanist, but I don't get why everyone is hating on MS for not having BETA software rolled out in multiple languages. It is still technically in its testing phase. Atleast wait until it is actually supposed to be released before you start complaining. The funny thing is, if MS rolled out Cortana in other countries and wasn't bug free and maybe handled certain things in a more "American" way, people would still be b!tching about it.
  • Same here, it's better that it's beta tested on Americans first so the rest of us get a better product!!
  • Nicely said. One step at a time... UK and China next, then other countries to follow next year, with Canada and Australia leading the pack :)
  • You'll no doubt be one of the Americans who get annoyed when, say, the Harry Potter books are released in UK first ? Or Sherlock new series airs in US a month after UK ? Or when a book has "colour" instead of "color" ? Look in the mirror mate and see hypocrisy
  • When did china became an English speaking country??
  • Last time I checked, 60 million in UK speak English and 300 million in China, go figure.
  • So it should be available in the UK just because we, supposedly, have less people speaking English?
  • Maybe they're giving Cortana, an English accent...
  • And you got that figure where ? Thin air ? Or usual PC sources. "Learning" a language is far different to being "English speaking"
  • When was China a Chinese only country????
  • What the hell are you talking about ?
  • There are more foreigners in China than there is in the locations mentioned above combined? That's why it makes sense to release in China first. Since so many were asking why.
  • Don't see why Canada is left out of the v1 launch. There has been local data here since local scout was added to WP.
  • We always had to switch the search region to the U.S. To get local scout to work in Canada. I dont understand...
  • Lets hope that new technology centre they are building in Vancouver and spenidng $90mil a year on will get us morre Bing love.
  • probably cause of French language support
  • So it's Quebec's fault? I can get behind that :) Seriously though, how messed up is it that China gets it before Canada?
  • I've found Bing/scout data for Canada to be quite flaky. Businesses in my area that have been closed or don't exist are still getting listed. Can't wait for Cortan-eh to be available here. The imperial-to -metric conversions are driving me nuts.
  • No love for Spanish speaking people, we' re the second most spoken language!
  • 3rd. Mandarin (Chinese) then English then Spanish.
  • But in number of native speakers first goes Spanish then English
  • We have an important user base in Mexico, but i wonder if a good amount of mexicans are even aware of 8.1 and its features. I dont think so, most of them are budget phone users who just want to make phone calls and facebook. Time will tell
  •  India? bring her to India . Using Phone in US mode is not easy.
  • Woohoo! So we in the UK get to see what the deal is, officially! Looking forward to this - siri felt like an afterthought, all the good features stayed in America. Hope this is different.
  • Well,India is also a English speaking nation. Though not very often. But still.......
  • Yeah.All Indians also speak and use the same accent including Maharashtrians and Tamilians.Oh Wait...
  • So does this mean that it will be coming to the UK and China in the official 8.1 release, or the first update to 8.1?
  • With v 1.0 of Cortana which, hopefully, will be when WP8.1 is released.
  • If iam not wrong India has got more English speakers than in UK n china...!!!! :(
  • Aikes! You people heard what I asked her??
  • Ireland too I hope
  • Ppl in India also speak English but the accent really differs from person to person. India is an imp WP market mostly to ppl living in South India. So Cortana is also needed here in India. There are lot of tech developers and Microsoft lovers mostly from South India.
  • Even Microsoft Ceo is from South India, There are lots of people who are working in MS are from India! Bring it soon!
  • As user we have done our part by letting her learn from us :D
  • 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.
    Does this mean they know what questions I asked Cortana? I hope not ;)
  • There's never love for India. Its sad because we have wp users here too and yes we do speak english.
  • I'm surprised about china since windows phone barely sells there.
  • Italien should be the next one since they love WP in Italy. Cortana parlare italiano? and german to gain some marketshare in Germany, Switzerland and Austria Kortana sprechen Sie deutsch?    
  • Tegen die tijd dat cortana hier in Nederland uit komt is het al gedateerd.....
    When Cortana gets released here in Holland.... it's probably outdated
  • Holland will never be outdated :D
  • Goelogical, Dutch langues is huges.
    You got Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname and South Africa! 
  • Canada.
  • Oh c'mon China is a huge market Microsoft knows what is doing getting close to this market
  • No love for windows phone in India... :(
  • China? Full of Mandarin
  • English is the 2nd official language in India..
  • Polish is the official 2nd language here in the UK but I don't see Poland on the list of Cortana v 1.0 releases either.
  • Not I in India? So sad.
  • Indian is complex as there are many different dialects. Assuming your Indian you should understand this and be more patient.
  • seems faster 
  • Hopefully this mess every metric user in the us will be able to change stupid F to C. US drives me insane with their stupid measuring systems that no one else uses.
  • Malaysia should also listed. As our english speaking accent is great. Its better than India and China
  • Once they crack regional dialects and voices in the UK it will be easier to get Australia, India and other ex colonial countries working, as your accents are rooted in British English.
  • Like Jordie, Brum, Liverpool and Scottish, for example. That should take a month then :D
  • Or even Geordie ;-)
  • Cheryl Cole will never ask me round for lunch again!
  • Every cloud...
  • Cortana understands my Scottish accent just fine.  Very impressed, actually.
  • Sorry?
  • Awa' an bile yer heid ya sassenach.
  • Exactly, just look at the amount of regional variants there are on your PC in the language options!! In English alone you have Australia, Belize, Canada, Caribbean, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe as well as UK and US.
  • You say tomato and I say tomato
  • How to get that musi finder button in Cortana?
  • May be because europe has the highest market share for witndows phone and tax dispute b/w nokia & indian govt.
  • I guess us Canadians must have a strong accent eh
  • Oui, bien sur
  • Canada: lovely place to go for a holiday along with UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Thailand.
  • If we sell Quebec to France for $1 and change our language to English only, can Canada get Cortana along with the UK? ;p
  • NO ;p
  • India please!
  • For me the hidden message is clear. Cortana will not support multilangual support. English and Chinese yes. But even after many years, I have still to see Tell me support for other languages, even in Europe. Cortana is trying to be equal, but some are more equal than others. I think for Europe, which is otherwise a good market for windows and windows phone, cortana just made a huge drop on the wow factor and interest list. I understand that microsoft wants to make it excellent. But they've still been busy on this for over 10 years. And I'm getting the impression that Siri and Google voice are still leaps and bounds ahead. How is that possible? I think the issue isn't that microsoft CAN pull it off, but somehow organizing a functional support for all languages, which should be possible by now is not logistically though out well. 5 years ago I would have yes, it needs to be more excellent. What I see now what Cortana can do is, for now, good enough. Dear Microsoft, just distribute the Cortana API en let each satellite micorosoft office in different countries start collecting and applying their native tongue into the system. The excellent part will come soon enough after this. Then you'll get the "me too" rolling and windows phone pick up pace in popularity and sales.
  • Although windows phone is not showing love for India by not releasing Cortana any time soon I am happy that India is getting a lot of applications off late and I hope this trend goes on. Windows phone is on rise here in India. With new apps and games coming everyday wp will gain more popularity.
  • Lol, they just really go for the big market not really for the english speaking country xD
  • Other english speaking like....canada?
  • I don't know why you guys are arguing Chinese don't speak English. The screen shot I have seen for the Chinese version of Cortana is in Chinese! I suppose the voice recognition should also be in Chinese rather than in English
  • They always get everything
  • Glad the UK gets it super soon hazar!
  • Glad the UK's getting it, as Cortana understands my Scottish accent just fine (without having to put an American accent on like the TellMe in WP8). Kinda sucks for other countries, though.  I'm sure even in non-English speaking countries, some folks would be fine speaking in English to her.
  • Why not India :/
  • Yeah exactly... Wp users r more in India than china or Australia.. Name it..
  • Great news for those of us in the UK and China, so long as the beta doesn't last as long as Google's betas do.
  • If V1 means final version of WP8.1 and the Lumia 630 / 635 shipping in roughly 2 weeks; for those of you in the UK and China, you should be getting it soon for unlocked handsets. I guess late May / early June...? Knowing Microsoft's track record, I bet it'll be late July / early August at the earliest.
  • Y not India?? Common folks wp is more popular here than in US n any other countries...
  • Dates?
  • excellent UK is getting this at release. Very happy about this.
  • Thanks for the informations. So we're all here to wait for Cortana.
  • Centeral and west canadian accent sounds more "american" than the Boston accent... I don't see what work needs to be done to roll it out to canada.
    They can update it later to understand the newfie accent and quebec french/english.
  • By the time Cortana comes out in Australia we'll have Apple's new iPhone 6 out enticing us to the dark side with Siri
  • Philippines too!!!
  • When is it comming to mumbai
  • Once again India isn't mentioned for version 1 release Windows phone has more market share in India but still neglected by Microsoft this is very very disappointing Microsoft shame on you
  • I do not understand why these people are impatient........ Go and through your WP in dust bin like me as everything will be coming or will come or will update but not properly organized in WP ecosystem, im completely irritated and i am started using iPhone S again. So please do not complain and try to wipe out WP in India
  • PHILIPPINES IS THE BEST AT SE ASIA FOR ENGLISH DIALECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • No No No No..........1st You guys please update in India..There are so many people waiting for this update including me..Kindly do update very soooon. Thank You        
  • Hi All, I am from India and as i have regular interaction with Chinese people for my business, i don't think they know English well. I find very though to make them understand thing's in normal layman's English but still it's difficult to make them under simple things.
    Then how come they get it????
  • Like Joe said, even f they do not launch in other countries in V1, they have data from people of those countries already, since most people having 8.1 have switched to en-us. It shouldn't take them long to have cortana available natively to most countries .
  • Just a quick suggestion, not that anybody in power will read it. Just release the f*ing Cortana feature to everybody, regardless of location and language settings. WP8.1 is a PREVIEW version currently, therefore, those of us, who use it, presumably would liketo to try (dare I say: preview) these features. Everybody who is smarter than the average chihuahua (and I would like to apologize to all the chihuahuas reading WPCentral for using them as a baseline in my comparison) realizes that it is a beta function and is localized to the US (language, accent, local content, etc). If it makes them feel better, they could include a note letting people know that it works only with limitations - nonetheless, I would assume that such a preview version is installed primarily by enthousiast and / or power users only, who know this already. I understand that not everybody wants to spend time with tweaking and fine tuning, but prefer the "final and full user experience" but it's unfortunate that they seem to be the basis of all the decisions at Microsoft lately. I can only imagine all the crap they have to deal with incompetent cusomters (yes, the customer is often wrong, when it comes to the technology part of the business); however, it is frustrating that a lot of users - who would otherwise gladly test these features - are left out because of their geographical location.
  • In Ireland speak English also
  • Wow. So many angry people here. If you have common sense, it's not only about native language in what countries or if locals can speak english or not.  A lot of you talk like there's only Chinese people in China. There are probably more western people there than all of the countries mentioned above combined, so you can probably go figure.
  • do we speak english in china -.-……
  • Philippines. WPC App for Android- Lenovo IdeaTab A3000
  • And what abt India???
  • And how soon is V1?
  • Microsoft has gone mad... They feel China as an English speaking nation..... What about India then?
  • Damn....
    Why china nd not India?????
    Microsoft.... U r d best
    Nd plzz continue to be the best
    If this keeps on going like this then ......
  • Though less Chinese speak English, there's still a China version. Because it's in Chinese.
  • Honestly, I think they are doing this wrong. Give Cortana to everyone as BETA, and then release version 1.0 for each region when developers feel confident that they have reached certain level of service quality. That way, everyone can play with Cortana, and noone can complain if it doesn't work perfect. I am living in New Zealand, but am not native English speaking. My accent is definitely not American, nor Kiwi (though I'm slowly getting there), but I have very little problems with Cortana not understanding me correctly. I am using it with US region settings, however I have to switch to New Zealand (and reboot phone) whenever I want to purchase something from Store. Result is much more frustrating than having beta Cortana for NZ, and rest of the world. And idea of not giving Cortana until perfect is also pointless, because everyone can get it anyway. Please, MS. Give us beta Cortana for our regions. Put big, bad, bold BETA on screen, put "Work in progress", put "final product may differ"... I don't care. Just let us play with it as it is without having to switch regions on the run.