Cortana is one of the best services Microsoft has developed in recent years. It's useful, it's funny, it has a great personality but it also has one major flaw: it is available only for a small number of countries and regions, making it unavailable to a very large number of people who would love to use it. I believe that the strategy of slowly releasing localized versions of Cortana is hurting Microsoft in many ways and that they should release an International English version of Cortana, so that it can be used by anyone in the world who has a decent command of English. Here are five reasons why I believe that Microsoft should do that:
Where is Cortana available?
At the time of writing this article, Cortana is available only for 11 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.
If you live in another country, in order to use Cortana, you have to go through many hoops , like changing your region and display language to a combination that has official support from Microsoft for enabling and using Cortana. The steps involved are detailed in this guide: How To Get Cortana To Work In Any Country, Even If There's No Official Support.
Reason 1. Microsoft should reward users from markets where it is doing well in the mobile space
If you look at the market share Microsoft has in the mobile space, in important markets like the USA (1.6%), China (1.2%) or Japan (0%), it's so small that it doesn't truly matter. Unfortunately, Cortana was first made available in several countries where Microsoft is insignificant in the mobile space.
It appears that Microsoft is doing well with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile in other markets, like: Italy, Germany, Poland, Romania, Brazil, Greece, Mexico or Ukraine.
Unfortunately, many of the markets where Microsoft is doing well with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, don't have Cortana available. If people in these countries have demonstrated their interest in Microsoft devices and services, by purchasing mobile devices with Windows, why doesn't Microsoft reward them by offering access to all the interesting features that the company has to offer, like Cortana? If certain markets are buying your mobile platform more than others, why don't you reward them by providing the support they deserve?
Reason 2. Increase the value of Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile
By keeping Cortana available only to a small number of regions and languages, you are decreasing the value for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile on a global level. It doesn't matter that Cortana is a great personal assistant, if it can't be used by people in a large number of countries. How can you be successful in selling your mobile platform if one of its most interesting features is available only to a small number of markets? You must do something to increase the value of your mobile platform. One way to do so is to offer all your stand-out features, like Cortana, in all markets, not just a few.
Reason 3. Many people know English and can interact with Cortana even if they are not native English speakers
I can't say this is valid for all countries but in my country, Romania, most people with a University degree know English quite well and they can use Cortana, if an International version would be made available in English. Personally, I use English on all of my computers and gadgets as the main display language. Many people in the Romanian tech scene do the same. And we are quite a large population.
Having Cortana available would definitely increase our productivity. Personally, I do not enjoy having to lie about my region when setting up my gadgets, just so that I can use Cortana. And speaking of this...
Reason 4. You foster resentment in your users
Microsoft, have you looked at how large is the list of countries where you can use Google Now ? It includes 79 countries a t the time this article is being written . And what about Siri? Apple has provided support for Siri in 30 countries. You offer Cortana only in 11 countries.
Why is Cortana limited to such a small number of countries and languages? Why have you made it available in countries where Microsoft barely exists in the mobile space and you haven't in countries where you have a good market share?
You may not realize this but you are fostering resentment exactly in those users who are your biggest supporters. People that live in countries like Poland, Romania, Brazil, Greece, Mexico or Ukraine.
Reason 5. It will be easier for Microsoft to develop localized versions of Cortana
Let's assume that Microsoft does release an International English version of Cortana that can be used by anyone in the world. Cortana will then be adopted in countries where Microsoft wants to develop future localized versions but they haven't started yet. While development is ongoing, they will already have gathered lots of data about how Cortana is used in those countries, making it easier to develop localized versions. You will know how users in all the countries use Cortana. All you will have to do next is offer support for local languages at your own pace. Sounds better than your current strategy, doesn't it?
What do you think?
Have you used Cortana? Do you enjoy using it? What do you think about Microsoft's strategy regarding Cortana? Do you agree with me when I say that Microsoft should release an International English version of Cortana? I really want to get your opinion and have a constructive conversation with you on this subject.