When we introduced Cortana as a beta as part of Windows Phone 8.1 in the U.S. this past spring, she generated worldwide interest and excitement which was amazing to see. With the Windows Phone 8.1 Update we announced last summer, we extended Cortana’s availability as a beta into China and the U.K. Since then, we have been working very hard to continuously deliver updates including making her available in more languages. Later today, we will begin rolling out an update to the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program that makes Cortana available in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain as an “alpha”.

Alpha means that Cortana is new to these countries, most of the features in the beta version are available but some are missing or coming soon. For example, flight tracking is not available at this time for alpha. Transit data is currently limited to larger cities and will expand as we have more data. Additionally, reference data (e.g. “How tall is Mt. Everest”) is also not available – but we’re working hard to enable this soon! We have also worked hard to tailor Cortana’s personality in each language (with local chit chat and jokes) to make her more locally and culturally relevant (i.e. make sure she fits in!). Cortana will also show European football (or as we Americans call “soccer”) league data, including Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and La Liga.

Take a look at a small set of Cortana’s functionality in the new languages…

Cortana learns about her users to better assist them. Here, Cortana is asking a new French user their name, and she’ll even make sure she pronounces it properly.

This shows Cortana’s daily glance in Cortana home, where she’s helping a German user get ready for the day ahead with a snapshot of the weather, a news article, and their upcoming meeting.

Here, Cortana has triggered a reminder based on this Italian user’s location, making sure he doesn’t forget to buy peaches for lunch!

Cortana is the only digital assistant able to trigger people-based reminders, and in this example she reminds a Spanish user to ask about dinner right when her friend Daniel calls.

Cortana will be available through the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program first because we need help from the community to use and speak to Cortana in order to improve the speech and language recognition models for each of the new languages. By working with her, you will help to improve her conversational understanding and also help us improve her intelligence – the breadth of answers she can provide and the categories she’s aware of – so she can truly help you throughout your day. There’s no need to file explicit feedback: simply using Cortana will help make her better over time. It’s so exciting to see the passion the community has had for Cortana and your passion has been one of the driving forces for us to bring Cortana alpha to more countries. Expanding Cortana availability has been a top request on our Windows Phone UserVoice page. Your requests help shape the product and we want to thank you for the feedback and comments. Keep them coming!

If you have specific asks, please send us feedback here on UserVoice. We are monitoring the feedback very closely to learn how we can make Cortana even more delightful and useful for you.

Over time, we are planning to make Cortana available as a beta in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain just like in the U.S., China, and U.K. and we’re dedicated to helping more people around the world get access to Cortana, the truly personal digital assistant!

To begin using and testing Cortana today, sign up through the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program by clicking here.