Cortana, Microsoft’s spunky intelligent assistant, has long been a part of stateside Windows 10 Insider releases, but international users have so far missed out. That’ll change with the launch of Windows 10 on July 29 — Microsoft announced today in a blog post that it’ll bring Cortana to the UK, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Simultaneously, Microsoft says, Cortana will launch as part of the Windows Insider Program in Japan, Australia, Canada (in English), and India, and later this year will come to Brazil, Mexico, and Canada (in French).
The reason for the holdup, wrote Microsoft’s Marcus Ash in a related statement, was localization. Tailoring Cortana to individual countries and cultures required “embracing thoughtful customization” with “a local team of writers, editors, programmers, and voice talent” in each market, some of which are highly idiosyncratic. Customers in China wanted an assistant “whose voice sounded like she was smiling,” for instance, while UK users indicated a preference for “a voice that sounds easy-going […] with slightly self-deprecating modesty.”
Beyond adhering to linguistic peculiarities like idioms and speech patterns, Microsoft says it “[ensured] Cortana’s functionality fit the market’s needs.” In China, Cortana tracks air quality data, while in Italy, it reflects that country’s patriotism by playing the national anthem when prompted to sing. It shows exceeding politeness in Japan by defaulting to a bow, and shows an appropriate reverence for hockey in Canada.
“We craft Cortana’s local personality based on insights about each culture while at the same time staying true to the foundational principles that are universal to all markets: Cortana is positive, confident, intelligent and transparent,” Ash wrote. “Our goal with Cortana is to deliver a culturally relevant, approachable and helpful assistant as part of a great experience on Windows 10 devices.”
Support for the new countries will hit the general Windows 10 populace eventually, but consider opting into Microsoft’s Insider Program if you’d like an early look.
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