G’day, I’m Cortana: Microsoft’s virtual assistant to be localised for Australian users

Australia is among the first countries scheduled to receive a localised version of Cortana following launch of Windows 10.

Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Siri and Google Now, is one of the key features in Windows 10, but will only be available in seven different countries when the new operating system goes live on July 29: the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Microsoft today confirmed that Australia, alongside Canada, Japan and Mexico, will be the next to receive a localised version of Cortana. A specific date wasn’t provided, but Microsoft said that Australian members of the Windows Insider Program will be able to start using Cortana in "winter" – presumably, before the end of August.

In a blog post detailing the announcement, Microsoft's Group Program Manager for Cortana Marcus Ash said that in order to design an intelligent personal assistant, Microsoft had to abandon the "one size fits all" approach and embrace "thoughtful local customisations" that take into account what is important in each country and culture.

"It is truly a fascinating process to see Cortana evolve for each market," wrote Ash. "We approach each market rollout with extensive focus groups that answer, 'What's important in a personal assistant in this market?'"

"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."

Ash provided a number of examples how Cortana has been customised for other markets: in Britain, Cortana has a self-deprecating sense of humour; in Italy, she has a proud sense of national identity; and in Japan, she will bow to users as a sign of politeness.

Microsoft did not confirm if the Australian version of Cortana will be able to play "knifey spoony".

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