Jen Taylor's voice for Cortana won't be coming to the UK

Jen Taylor, the voice actor behind the Cortana personal assistant, has been revealed to be working with Microsoft only for the US locale on Windows Phone.

Microsoft has stated that Halo voice actress, Jen Taylor would provide the voice of Cortana on Windows Phone, however, a Microsoft employee who worked closely with the Cortana team has revealed that Jen Taylor's voice will be limited to devices in the United States.

Cortana is rumored to launch in the United Kingdom soon and it might feature the voice of a different actor in a British accent. A similar trend is expected to be followed for all the countries where the personal assistant will become available in the coming months.

The news may not be very surprising considering that some level of localization is required in order to cater to the needs of a global population. However, most Xbox users who have been accustomed to Jen Taylor's voice from the Halo games might find it a bit odd initially to associate Cortana with a different accent.

Source: WinBeta

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I hope they go with a female voice.
Also, this will be way behind the US version because they will lose all of the little jokes/songs/worry replies etc.

I am not a Halo fan, so I appreciate the fact Microsoft are going to serve Cortana localised, hopefully with our own "chit chat" and British-isms.

Is not just the Text to Speech parts remember. Many of those fun responses are recorded verbatim, and are not just generated by synthesis. That is why some things Cortana says are stilted, and others seem more natural.

The British or Chinese versions of Cortana, will not have the same content and responses as in America, so asking Jen Taylor to recorded all that extra stuff would be tough, and then the localised voice actors, would have to re-record the American specific responses too.

That would be a very expensive proposition.

mdtaUK said,
I am not a Halo fan, so I appreciate the fact Microsoft are going to serve Cortana localised, hopefully with our own "chit chat" and British-isms.

Is not just the Text to Speech parts remember. Many of those fun responses are recorded verbatim, and are not just generated by synthesis. That is why some things Cortana says are stilted, and others seem more natural.

The British or Chinese versions of Cortana, will not have the same content and responses as in America, so asking Jen Taylor to recorded all that extra stuff would be tough, and then the localised voice actors, would have to re-record the American specific responses too.

That would be a very expensive proposition.

I am a Halo fan but I actually agree with you, it's a digital assistant not a game so localising Cortana is the right thing to do. If they did the same thing in Halo 5 then I could understand people being ###### off about it.

Anyway who knows if in the Halo universe that there aren't localised versions of her as well.

Meh, something that was fan service to gamers ends up not being everything gamers want, so gamers throw a tantrum. What's new.

Sorry, but I don't really get all this *thing* about those limitations like bing rewards, Cortana, Xbox music (ok we all know about copyrights or whatever it is, but still consumers users don't care about it, just finish whatever you have to do because someone will be tired of waiting for those services that they love to "promote") and so on and on...

For example, right know users can configure Siri in whatever language they want without running those stupid limitations or the iOS software updates which you get immediately when released, also thanks God that I bought a Surface Pro 2 which I installed iTunes/Spotify again I'm not saying that xbox music is bad but still falls a LOT like functionalities, the so called geniuses playlists, features and of course you must be in a supported country or install a vpn service in order to use the app, so please I think that they have to have their work done just to satisfy the consumer users, I don't really care a THING about limitations I just want it to work!!

Off topic: any information about new features for the OneNote app I'm still waiting for a simple highlighter...

That's ridiculous. She's a Character. Or are we considered not capable of understanding the American accent? She doesn't visually look like Cortana, and now she's not going to sound like her...why even bother to call it Cortana then.

If the Virtual Assistant was Darth Vader, that'd be like switching out James Earl Jones for....David Prowse :/

At least give the User the option of Jen Taylor, maybe as a Voice Pack download.

Edited by Walrush, Jul 25 2014, 12:17am :

They should let you choose. There are many people in the US that would much rather have the Cortana version with the British accent.

British accents are much more respected and liked than American accents in the US. They are seen as sophisticated. And for text-to-speech (the parts not pre-recorded by a voice actor), we're probably not as good at picking out the flaws in a foreign accent.

Not everyone is an anglophile. It's probably more like, we're all freaking tired of yet another rehashing of the female operator harpy. Anything is better than another Siri.

I think that's a bit of a sweeping generalisation; not all Americans are dumb, fast food eating slobs who have never been out of their own state and sleep with their sisters ;-/

TheShark said,
I think that's a bit of a sweeping generalisation; not all Americans are dumb, fast food eating slobs who have never been out of their own state and sleep with their sisters ;-/

No, but people everywhere love foreign accents. It's embedded in our DNA deep down in order to encourage a diverse gene pool and discourage you from sleeping with your sister.

rfirth said,

No, but people everywhere love foreign accents. It's embedded in our DNA deep down in order to encourage a diverse gene pool and discourage you from sleeping with your sister.

Now that there's one big fat CITATION NEEDED.

Not that I'm doubting you. I'm sure you wouldn't believe something without meaningful evidence first. Just let me know what it took to convince you, and I'm sure that'll be enough.

Why call the DA Cortana if it doesn't have Cortana's voice? MS have the worst problem with accents, it as if they don't think one nationality could understand another even if they both speak English :?

Son_Of_Dad said,
MS have the worst problem with accents, it as if they don't think one nationality could understand another even if they both speak English :?

Going to get burned either way. Either they use the same talent and then it's "why couldn't they have a real Brit voicing it" or they use different people and then they complain it's not the same voice. Never mind that's a given for the other languages anyway.. watch movies dubbed in different languages, they don't change the names of the characters. I also wouldn't be surprised if somebody takes offense to both American and British English being called the same language.

Different languages is not a topic that needs discussion, however if you want to take movies for example (or TV shows, hell take the Halo games as an example) the audio isn't dubbed is it? You don't turn on an episode of TBBT in Australia and Sheldon starts with "G'day mate, how's she hang'n?"

Difference is that Cortana is a personal assistance meant to serve your culture and local needs. To do that, it is best to have a real British person do the voice for Britain. Ideally, making it optional would be better, but I get what they are trying to do. The reality is, no matter which direction they go with, people will complain,

For example, one of my clients is major global company. Our website had a few basic flags to allow people to pick language, English, French, etc. Well the American division that ran that primarily owned working with our site asked us to remove the British flag because it was redundant in picking English and just use the American flag. Well a week later, their EMEA division based in the UK was upset so they asked us to merge the flags together. Instead, I put them side by side, lol. But that is how it is. People get upset when you try to remove their culture in some way or another.

Son_Of_Dad said,
Why call the DA Cortana if it doesn't have Cortana's voice? MS have the worst problem with accents, it as if they don't think one nationality could understand another even if they both speak English :?

It's more than just accent. The average Brit has a vocabulary nearly 3 times larger than the average American.

libertas83 said,
Difference is that Cortana is a personal assistance meant to serve your culture and local needs. To do that, it is best to have a real British person do the voice for Britain. Ideally, making it optional would be better, but I get what they are trying to do. The reality is, no matter which direction they go with, people will complain,

For example, one of my clients is major global company. Our website had a few basic flags to allow people to pick language, English, French, etc. Well the American division that ran that primarily owned working with our site asked us to remove the British flag because it was redundant in picking English and just use the American flag. Well a week later, their EMEA division based in the UK was upset so they asked us to merge the flags together. Instead, I put them side by side, lol. But that is how it is. People get upset when you try to remove their culture in some way or another.

Yeeeeah, well, using flags for languages is a newbie mistake. No localization consultant worth their salt would recommend something like that. Languages != countries, countries != languages. After all, would a Canadian flag be English or French? An Austrian flag?

It's basically a lazy solution picked by a designer before they actually brought in their localization team.

I wasn't the one that set it up that way, that is how it was when I had to support it. And actually, speajing of newbie behavior, you don't even need to let users choose. You can actually get the localization settings directly from the user without asking.

It's not about understanding, it's about it feeling like a localised service. Finally MS are focussing on other markets and not just the US, so it's the right thing not to have an American giving you replies. I hope the person they use has some 'character' to their voice and isn't just a generic accent.

Joshie said,
An Austrian flag?

Actually German is almost exclusively represented by the flag of Germany, yet I don't think anybody in Austria or Switzerland has ever made a big deal about it…

They might be able to make it an option to pick if the UK wants Jen Taylor's voice =). I have my here maps set to US but I like the UK female voice better ;).

They're not letting people in the UK use Cortana right now correct? It sounds like they're not adding it to other English-speaking countries because they're going to be developed as an entirely different language. Personally I think it's a bit messed up (after English people can understand American accents just fine right...) but that's most likely how it'll be built unfortunately.

Pluto is a Planet said,
They're not letting people in the UK use Cortana right now correct? It sounds like they're not adding it to other English-speaking countries because they're going to be developed as an entirely different language. Personally I think it's a bit messed up (after English people can understand American accents just fine right...) but that's most likely how it'll be built unfortunately.

I think its because even though we can understand each other, the differences in speech and word usage are vastly different and MS has to account for that. However, I dont know why they cant receive input in a language and then output it as a different voice pack. That is what I was trying to say =).

Scabrat said,

I think its because even though we can understand each other, the differences in speech and word usage are vastly different and MS has to account for that. However, I dont know why they cant receive input in a language and then output it as a different voice pack. That is what I was trying to say =).

Yeah that would be cool... Especially if you want Cortana to be able to translate for you. Literally use her to translate what you're saying to people who don't speak the same language as you, like the previews they've showed with Skype.

The languages aren't that different, but it does make sense. After all it's a local service, people always complain that Bing and other MS services are US focussed - so it's the right thing to make Cortana English for the UK market (and likewise localised for other markets like China, India, Australia, France, etc). After all when it's a different language they can hardly keep Jen Taylor.

NastySasquatch said,
Should have just recorded her using a fake brit accent. That would have been GOLDEN!

Better yet, how awesome would it be if they got the Queen to voice act!