Cortana team 'shocked' by international response; rethinks roll-out schedule

Hearing from folks on the Cortana team is always fun and interesting, and today we can enjoy a few more insights from inside Microsoft. A video shows Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana, talking about the assistant’s beginnings and, more importantly, her future.

Speaking at a conference last week in Seattle, Ash answers some questions about how Cortana first came to be and how Microsoft’s product stands up to the competition. But, intriguingly, Ash also explains some of the team’s future plans for Cortana.

Despite the fact that, so far, Cortana has been available only in the US, more than half of the folks that have installed Windows Phone 8.1 Dev Preview are using the digital assistant internationally. Ash says the Cortana team “is shocked” by this awesome reception and as a result, they’re thinking differently about the planned roll-out of Cortana to new markets.

Here’s the deal: voice recognition systems as well as AI digital assistants need a lot of data to work well. The learning algorithms require hundreds of hours of conversations and a ton of queries to become more accurate, to understand you better and to simply become more useful.

And what better way to gather all of that data than to release Cortana to as many people as possible? Ash explains that the way Cortana has been received internationally has made the team rethink their approach and their priorities in getting the service to more people. While new features are inbound, the team is now concentrating on getting Cortana to new markets. As such the roll-out to new regions may have been sped up. 

This can only be good news for everyone who likes Cortana and with Microsoft pushing new features, and reportedly bringing the digital assistant to Windows and Xbox, the future has us excited.

Source: Mark Guim ( Youtube) Via: WPC

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft reportedly holding off on virtual reality headsets or glasses, for now

Next Story

Microsoft is about to make big changes to legacy Windows code

28 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I'm not surprised by this information. It's been well known amongst the real users out there that having a US only release of a feature that others want is silly.

Well they could have put it out there to start with, but turned off by default.

Give the User from outside the US who turns it on a bit of a Heads-Up as to what features do and don't work, and then let them at it.

Especially when you tie features like Quiet-Hours to it that then don't make it out beyond the US because of Cortana.

Brony said,
-MS: do you want Cortana?.
-International customers : Yes, why not?.
-MS: (SHOCKED)

paulheu comment is spot on: why doesn't MS hear their costumers (outside of US)?

They did though.

Cortana (Beta) was released not long ago, MS didn't expect it to be as big as it is in beta form - and didn't expect so many none US people to set their phones to US in order to use Cortana (and with that create other issues like unable to use region locked apps, wrong formats etc.) but MS did hear it, and now will release faster to more markets. How is this MS not hearing?

duddit2 said,
They did though.

Cortana (Beta) was released not long ago, MS didn't expect it to be as big as it is in beta form - and didn't expect so many none US people to set their phones to US in order to use Cortana (and with that create other issues like unable to use region locked apps, wrong formats etc.) but MS did hear it, and now will release faster to more markets. How is this MS not hearing?

by not enabling Cortana in more territories than US. I know it's still too soon (it's still in Beta right?) but remember that all the players already have a good solution, so unless Microsoft catches up with a better one and with more markets, they will never catche up.

Praetor said,

by not enabling Cortana in more territories than US. I know it's still too soon (it's still in Beta right?) but remember that all the players already have a good solution, so unless Microsoft catches up with a better one and with more markets, they will never catche up.


That is what they are doing and it's pretty quick after the initial launch.

Praetor said,

paulheu comment is spot on: why doesn't MS hear their costumers (outside of US)?

Other than big tech events abroad (MWC, Computex, etc) where new toys are announced, media mostly only cover news of things happening in USA. Stakeholders are also based in the USA so they only care for what would they experienced.

Tech media doesn't punish companies for ignoring international market strong enough, such as stating it first and outright about how features are being crippled outside the "markets that matters" and blow opinions that would hurt their price for it.

And seriously, Microsoft should find and buy a service that has already been gathering data from the crowds. Their data gathering outside those "markets that matters" just sucks and waiting for them to do it right seems to be futile attempt (again, except if you're living in one of the "markets that matters")

Brony said,
-MS: do you want Cortana?.
-International customers : Yes, why not?.
-MS: (SHOCKED)

Lets be fair, MS is shocked when anything they do with their phones isn't a failure :p

BLATANT PROMOTIONAL ADVERTISING... I mean really. :)

Anyway, when they can create "Samantha" like it was done in the movie "Her" get back to me. And if they can get Scarlett Johansson to do that voice too, I'm sold.

Make sure to watch the video people, the article takes things out of context when it comes to shocked and re-thinking. It's not like they're doing this just now, the rollout plan as evidently seen on their social media outlets has already been in progress for quite some time now.

j2006 said,
.....

Cannot agree with this more.
Saw this on about six sites and the comments are always the same.

Really, Microsoft are surprised at how many unofficial beta testers they have.
That's pretty much why I got into warez in the first place, to play with betas.
Now, Connect exists and developer previews it's really easy to be on vNext perpetually.

This - along with the surprise of beta testers actually setting their phone region to US just to use Cortana, and taking the region change hit to do it (I cant use BBCi player etc as its region locked - also formats are wrong and Bing defaults to US)

That has been the writing on the wall for years now - release your stuff to the rumored twilight world that supposedly exists outside US (and certain privileged countries at times). Somebody will buy it.
It is partly why Apple can't be dethroned (everybody knows who they are) and totally why Google won the race - they're everywhere, from plazas with boutiques to main street to flea markets.

Phouchg said,
That has been the writing on the wall for years now - release your stuff to the rumored twilight world that supposedly exists outside US (and certain privileged countries at times). Somebody will buy it.
It is partly why Apple can't be dethroned (everybody knows who they are) and totally why Google won the race - they're everywhere, from plazas with boutiques to main street to flea markets.

Greetings from China - the world's biggest market. Bigger than USA and EU combined. Who is this Google you say is "everywhere"? Maybe some of you Americans need to get out more.

Nobody can reasonably sell products of the censorship-ridden, well-rooted pirated software abundance and overflowing knock-off market. The entry is too difficult, the ROI - too little.

What I get from watching the video is that they always wanted to get it out to as many people and regions as possible as fast as they can but they were shocked that so many none US residents would be setting their phone to US in order to use Cortana and as such they will be focusing more effort on making it available in beta form to more regions (even if the language recognition is no better than the US, it will use your own region formats at least and let you keep your phone in your own region).

paulheu said,
Sad as it may sound, yet another sign Microsoft is truly out of touch with their customers.

Well at least they are listening. The questionable thing is Belfiore introduced her a big new feature just before the dev preview, why did they expect the international user base not to take a look?