We’ve been enjoying Microsoft’s sassy digital assistant here in the U.S. for awhile now, with the UK and China also able to utilize the software to its fullest and residents in Australia, India, and Germany getting an early “Alpha” version. Finally, though, thanks to the impending launch of Windows 10, the Halo-character-turned-virtual-assistant is headed to even more places and seeing more faces than ever before.
Cortana program manager Marcus Ash announced earlier today that there will be an initial seven countries — the aforementioned minus Australia and Germany, plus France, Italy, and Spain — at launch, but Cortana will also be showing off her halos in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, and Japan, in the coming months:
Today we’re announcing that over the coming months, Cortana will be available to customers in the Windows Insider Program in Japan and Australia, and in English in Canada and India. Later this year, Cortana will also be available to Windows Insiders in Brazil and Mexico, and in French in Canada.
Microsoft’s rollout of Cortana is slow-going due to Redmond’s push to keep content for each region local, relevant, and useful. Even Cortana’s personality changes somewhat, with a more “respectful” tone being enjoyed by Japanese users than those of other countries. As Microsoft says, for Japan’s users, “high level of politeness is valued; Cortana will bow by default.”
Because of the different languages and localization attempts, voice actress Jen Taylor couldn’t do the voice of the digital assistant in every location, but I think we can all agree that the important thing is to see Cortana reach as many places as possible.
In fact, Microsoft goes on to say that voice talent is “carefully considered for each market”. For example, in the Chinese market, the feedback requested a personal assistant whose voice sounded like she was smiling. And in UK, customers described their personal assistant as an “English Rose,” which translated to a voice that sounds “easy-going, with slightly self-deprecating modesty.”
Cortana is customized to reflect the local language, idioms and speech patterns of each country. 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.
Cortana’s functionality also depends largely on market trends, such as the importance of air quality in the Chinese market; part of Cortana’s job is to track data on air quality and provide that information to customers in China.
It’s great to see Cortana’s steady expansion into additional markets as well as the love and care that Microsoft has been giving to her. Where do you think she’ll go next, location, functionality, or otherwise? Let us know in the comments.