Microsoft had previously announced that the Cortana digital personal assistant will appear in Windows 10 at launch on July 29 in seven countries. But today it came clean on its plans for a more global launch, with Cortana heading to more countries in the coming months.
That said, you’re going to need to join the Windows Insider program—which I strongly recommend to all readers of this site—in order to get access to Cortana—and other new Windows 10 features—as quickly as possible.
“On July 29th, Cortana will be available in Windows 10 in seven countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain,” Microsoft’s Marcus Ash said. “And we’re also excited that through the Windows Insider program this summer, we’re going to continue to bring Cortana to more customers in more countries.”
Here’s what the rollout schedule looks like.
“In the coming months.” Cortana will come to Windows Insider members in Japan, Australia, Canada (English only) and India (English only).
“Later this year.” Windows Insiders in Brazil and Mexico will gain access to Cortana in Windows 10.
As Ash explains in a YouTube video, bringing technology as complex as Cortana to new locales is no easy task.
“To bring Cortana to other countries means we take the time to understand what is important to our customers in those countries,” he said. “Everything from the tasks that they do, the different types of content that they care about, to the personality.”
In China, Microsoft was told by customers that a personal assistant there should sound like they were smiling. They were looking for something a little more fun, and more playful. So China gets a custom Cortana character, or shape, with a unique expressive personality.
In Japan, the culture is more formal, so Cortana will bow and use formal pronunciations.
Cortana is obviously a key differentiator for Windows 10, albeit one that is frankly not available to the vast majority of countries that will be upgrading in the weeks and months ahead. Hopefully, Microsoft can quickly expand on the availability of Cortana throughout 2016, as it’s pretty clear this is a big deal for a lot of people. Getting it right is hugely important. Getting it out is just as important.