Xbox One voice commands limited to five countries at launch

There have already been delays to the launch of the Xbox One in Europe, but now it seems as if specific features are being held back at launch, as voice commands will be exclusive to just five countries when the console is made available for consumers later this year.

In Microsoft small print, it is revealed that international customers will miss out on controlling their Xbox hands-free:

Xbox voice commands will not be available in all markets on the product release date. Voice commands will be available at launch in US, UK, CA, FR, and DE.

When the Kinect was originally launched, it had trouble with understanding some accents, so Microsoft likely are working to make sure that future products don't suffer the same criticism. If you are in the US, the UK, Canada, France or Germany, then you'll be able to try the novelty feature, and hopefully it will perform well.

Nevertheless, if you are outside of these nations this news may come as bitter disappointment. We expect Microsoft to already be working on widening support, but they may be aiming to hit an ambitious release date.

Source: Microsoft | Image: Microsoft

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Quote:

"First, people should understand - I don't always know every detail happening with the program. Even though I run Product Planning (I'm not in PR!), that means we set the stage early for the features and HW, but a lot happens going through the development process. I stay very close as we approach launch, but I don't always know the specifics when things change, so sometimes (frequently) I have to ask someone on the team. I also don't run PR or Marketing, so I don't see every piece of material that makes it to the public. In this case, there was an inconsistency between some small print on Xbox.com, and what I understood was happening - so I went to get more details.

Turns out the answer to this question is… complicated. It's been an education for me as I've been looking into it.

There is no way that I could do justice to it in a post, so the marketing team is working on a chart that gives clarity on what locales, languages, and voice features are available in each country. Trying to write it down would be confusing. Stay tuned for a more detailed explanation, but just to give clarity:

In November
- We will launch in 13 geos
- 10 of those geos will support some voice features
- We support 8 languages

The 8 Languages at Launch are:
1) English - US
2) English - GB (WW)
3) French
4) Spanish - MX
5) Spanish - ES
6) Italian
7) German
8) Portuguese

NOW - the nuance to this is that some voice *features* won't be available in all countries right away. “Xbox On”, for instance, is only available in 5 (hence the confusion on Xbox.com in the small print).

BigDug13 - the FAQ is correct, for launch. When you choose a language for your console, you will be offered the list of countries it is supported in. Using your example, if you choose Italy as your language, you only get Italian. We will continue to add more supported combinations over time. For example in Canada we will support English and French. The opportunity to “mix-and-match” languages and countries is something we're looking to do post-launch.

Again, sorry for all the confusion on this. Look for a more detailed explanation coming. Will most likely come through Xbox Wire, or Xbox.com. "

I speak English but I wont be able to use Kinect, so boo hoo to Microsoft who should of had "mix and match" languages ready before launch instead of rushing to beat Sony.

Why give Microsoft slack? I'm buying a bloody useless Kinect in Australia which wont do anything because our language isn't "supported", even though the majority of Australians don't speak in a heavy accent. What's the point of even plugging Kinect in?

See, I HATE this - I'm ENGLISH, with an English accent (proper, lol), but I live in Australia. So because of that, I can't use the voice features until they're set to understand Australian accents...

I understand that competition is good and all that stuff, but sometimes I wish companies could take their time to release frigging complete working systems instead of launching half assed stuff and having to wait for a fix that might or might not come anytime soon.

There have been many posts about this on the xbox 360 forums. Many gamers would prefer an option to use English, but MS has never given its users this choice. Voice control availability has always been based on the locale in your profile. So, when my xbox 360 is offline, voice control works perfectly as my console language is set to English. However, if I connect to xbox live it stops working because voice control is not and since the launch of the xbox 360 has never been available in my locale (even though it was an advertised feature)

And I think that illustrates why MS would go as far as delay the console in areas it has not completed the localization. They don't want to repeat this gen's weak voice support.

I don't think the answer is to simply release it and tell everyone that its English or nothing. That would anger plenty of users as well. The other issue is handling the accents of the user, even if they are using English. If the system is able to handle that kind of range, people will get frustrated trying to use it.

If MS has made this such a core feature, they better darn well make sure its ready before they release it.

So, it supports THREE languages at launch, French, English, and German. Nice. Still doesnt explain why the Swiss are being left out of the party...unless you factor in the production problems they are having making enough to fill demand. This is going to be a ROUGH launch.

Personally I think this is pretty crappy on Microsoft's part. I enjoy the current Kinect and am excited about the possibilities with the new one. But this is something they should have had ready to go for a while now for at least the top 15 markets or so, especially considering Kinect is a main part of the value add proposition. I understand it takes time, but you have to figure they've been working on Kinect 2.0 for at least a few years now.

Call me stupid but surely theyve bin localizing countries accents and languages since the first kinect was released, is it really that hard to just copy and paste what theyve done into the new kinect, after all its only software?

Haven't they localized all the voice recognition stuff from Windows as well, at least since Vista ?
Another thing I find odd is how France and Germany are amongst the supported country, but not, e.g. Switzerland where mostly German and French are spoken.

Well it could be that since the voice commands for the X1 are so much more extensive then the 360, they need to collect all sorts of new data in every language to make sure the commands work as intended.

Kinect on the 360 certainly had voice commands, but it was fairly limited.

What bothers me is people talking about how much work is required for the localization just to get all the voice commands in properly, yet Microsoft seems to have no issue releasing without working voice commands. Does that mean they are simply taking this long to actually translate text throughout their system?

I'm not a translator or anything, but it'd seem a bit odd to me that they couldn't at least get things straightened out to release in more places, if they are already okay with patching in voice commands later.

Once again, I can't help but feel that things continue to remain unclear for a console that's already had enough criticisms for the teams failing to explain the situation.

Well I suppose they feel like they cannot reduce the markets it is now launching in any further, so if they can't get the localization done in time for all 8 regions, then they will simple pass along updates as they finish after launch.

If localization is the real reason for the first cut in regions, then it seems that they wanted to limit the regions that would not have access to voice command features. If they are now seeing that they wont have localization done for all 8 regions, they decided it wasn't worth delaying in any more regions and to just patch it after launch.

This is a hard choice if I was MS. I would want to release in more regions, but I also would not want to release the product without full access to its features for everyone in that region. I have to think that those people wouldn't be happy if that happened. Instead, I might prefer to just delay the launch and put it out when its all ready.

Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if there's multiple issues with their mass release, between shortages to unfinished features. Thus, I can only imagine it to be a good call to stagger their release in order to fulfill demand at an adequate pace.

Depending on how fast Sony can manufacture and how long it will take Microsoft to actually have a presence in the countries that they aren't to release to until later, it's curious as to how well Sony can help to saturate those markets with their console before Microsoft can finally arrive to the scene.

This will be a very interesting launch imo.

Well yeah, it really comes down to when MS is able to launch in more regions.

If we are talking a couple months, Sony probably gains little to no advantage. If its 6 months or more before anyone else gets it, then it could be more of an impact.

As you said, Sony's ability to get enough PS4s made in order to take advantage of a delay is also a question.

Either way, lets not forget that the PS3 launched a year after the 360 and while there was pain for a while (which was a combo of high pricing, small game library, and launching later), it still turned out alright, so we will see.

Well, that's my other concern: Sony managed to play catch up and then surpass (albeit slightly) the 360 while launching a year later. If Sony can have more of an equal footing this time around, without being so limited upon who they release to, I'm wondering whether they'll gain more ground this time around.

So far, they seem to be doing things right. At this point, I STILL want to see how they're putting that much power in such a small device, without heat being an issue. I'd really hate to see another hardware fiasco for the next generation of gaming.

Well if your worried about Sony's ability to catch up, then I suppose your also assuming that MS does not have that ability. Sony has the ability to screw up and then make good choices. So far, MS seems capable of the same thing, it just comes down to keeping that up.

I don't know if MS can catch up like Sony did this gen, but I don't see any obvious roadblocks at the moment. MS seems willing to change in order to meet demand, so we will see. Of course the topic of localization isn't really a knock against the X1, it will get done when its done. I doubt MS is taking a break and not working as quickly as they can. Its in their best interest to get it done.

dead.cell said,
I STILL want to see how they're putting that much power in such a small device, without heat being an issue. I'd really hate to see another hardware fiasco for the next generation of gaming.
That's a small concern of mine too, but as an early adopter, it's one of the risks I'm willing to take. New console releases are like Christmas morning

Yeah, I haven't owned a console at launch in a while, but I'm excited to do it this time. There is no doubt that you run the risk of issues with the first revision of any console.

I decided to take out a little insurance and will get a Square trade warranty through Amazon for my preorder. Its surprisingly cheap for a 2 year warranty.

All the time. Voice control is much faster and it doesn't shut off periodically like the controller does when you're watching videos. Also searching is a million times faster with voice than the controller. I think I would use hand motions more often if you didn't have to wave to engage it and hover for long periods to select something. Hopefully the new Kinect will fix that.

I use voice commands so often that sometimes when I switch to my Roku box I forget that there's no voice control and I have this moment of frustration/annoyance that everything isn't voice enabled yet. It's like using a Windows 8 laptop without a touch screen, I keep fighting this urge to reach up and move the stuff on screen

Spicoli said,
Does anyone use the current voice control? It works okay but using the controller or hand motions works better.

My Kinect responds mostly to stress and profanity before each voice command (apparently due to my Wiltshire accent). Had the same issue when I used to own an iPhone as well though.

Xbox play game..........XBOX....play game............XBOX PLAY THE %#£!ING GAME.......bing search for dinosaurs.

I use voice commands on the 360 all the time when I can, but it reaches its limits too quickly and I have to reach for a controller anyway once you go too deep in a menu. I never use gesture control on the 360, why would I want to wave my arm in the air to move menu's when I could say "Xbox Game" instead of waving to get it to recognise my input, then clumsily try and move around the menu's, then having to hold the damn thing perfectly still on something to get it to select.

You`d have thought Spanish would have been a top priority as it`s one of the highest spoken languages worldwide (pretty much joint second with English).
Seriously i reckon the first time a Geordie speaks to kinect the thing may well blow up
No offence meant to North Easterners btw...

So I will speak English plainly and it will refuse to work because I'm not in the US, UK or Canada. I understand they want to perfect localization support but Microsoft, there are other countries in the world where English is the primary language.

Sadelwo said,
So I will speak English plainly and it will refuse to work because I'm not in the US, UK or Canada. I understand they want to perfect localization support but Microsoft, there are other countries in the world where English is the primary language.

I don't think we know that, only time will tell actually but I don't see why it won't accept commands if they're in English even if your locale is set to something else.

Sadelwo said,
So I will speak English plainly and it will refuse to work because I'm not in the US, UK or Canada. I understand they want to perfect localization support but Microsoft, there are other countries in the world where English is the primary language.

Probably, because that's how it works on an xbox 360. Some countries have never gotten the promised voice commands and despite many pleas on the ms forums, it's never allowed people to choose a language and instead uses the profile's locale.

Starting to look like FrankenLaunch at this point at least for those not in the US, UK, FR and CA.
As much as it would look great on Microsoft to put out the product before the PS4 is it really worth having a half done launch?

wv@gt said,
Starting to look like FrankenLaunch at this point at least for those not in the US, UK, FR and CA.
As much as it would look great on Microsoft to put out the product before the PS4 is it really worth having a half done launch?
If I had to guess this is more about navigating all of the legal implications of what they are doing, not technology.

So, most likely, blame your government.

MrHumpty said,
If I had to guess this is more about navigating all of the legal implications of what they are doing, not technology.

So, most likely, blame your government.

What legal implications could possibly have voice recognition? We have had voice recognition on our phones for quite a while already.

So if you have the feature it's a mere "novelty", but if you're missing out then it's a "bitter disappointment"? Why should anyone be bitterly disappointed over a novelty?

ModernMech said,
So if you have the feature it's a mere "novelty", but if you're missing out then it's a "bitter disappointment"? Why should anyone be bitterly disappointed over a novelty?
There is no way to know it's a novelty until you get some face time with it. And even then, your evaluation that is a novelty may not be the same experience for others.

I have no idea. I would feel silly talking to my console. Even more silly than I do talking to IVR phone systems that make you speak instead of allowing you to press keys for options >.<

I planned on getting my Tony Stark on and using it for absolutely everything. Without voice commands I wont even be plugging Kinect in, I wont be waving around bloody menu's, that's for sure.

No "Xbox On" in Australia