Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, is headed for the international terminal.
Microsoft launched Cortana exclusively in the United States after revealing it at the company’s Build developer conference in San Francisco in April. Now the feature will roll out to the United Kingdom and China within weeks, not months, according to a tweet last night from Marcus Ash, group program manager for Cortana on Windows Phone at Microsoft.
The move means Microsoft wants to start competing with Cortana’s rivals on a global scale sooner rather than later.
People can use Apple’s Siri personal assistant in any country, Apple says, and it speaks at least eight languages, with support for English in the United Kingdom and Mandarin in China. But some functions — like movie showtimes and restaurant reservations — only work in just a few countries.
It’s hard to say exactly where Google is at in the personal assistant internationalization race. While it has brought Google Voice to more languages, the Google Now personal assistant is limited in its language range, and some Google notes on its website that “some [Google Now] cards may not be available in all countries.”
If Microsoft moves aggressively in the coming months, it could get points for accommodating millions in foreign countries faster than Google when it comes to having a phone understand people’s voices and respond in kind.
Previously Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore had said Cortana will touch down in China and the United Kingdom in the second half of this year, with “other countries to follow afterwards into 2015.”