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Cortana goes British ahead of UK launch

Windows Phone 8.1 Cortana

Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 will be available on Microsoft's UK developer preview in early August, complete with British accent

The developer preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 will get Cortana in the next fortnight, Microsoft has confirmed. The beta of Microsoft’s virtual voice assistant will be provided as an update in less than two weeks ahead of its full release in the final three months of 2014.

In a Twitter post Marcus Ash, group program manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, said that Microsoft expected the UK version of Cortana to be available to developers “less than 2 weeks” – or by early August. Ash also revealed that the UK version will “definitely” have a British accent.

Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 was first teased for UK users back in late-May, with Microsoft’s UK Twitter account promising it was coming “soon”. A localised UK version of Cortana will better understand British accents and give full support for localised services. The availability of a UK version will enable developers to customise their apps and services to work properly with Cortana.

Earlier this month UK mobile network O2 confirmed that Cortana would be coming to the UK later this year. In an update about the latest Nokia Lumia Cyan update O2 said that Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 will launch in the fourth quarter of 2014. O2 also said it would support visual voicemail from launch.

Cortana, a virtual voice assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, can make calls, send messages, make appointments, play music and get directions as well as connect with third party apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The entirely voice-controlled app is already available in the US, with the UK launch being delayed.

Microsoft had initially suggested that Cortana would launch in the UK alongside Windows Phone 8.1, but its release date has since been pushed back to the end of the year.

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