International Windows 10 Desktop, Laptop Users: Cortana Workaround

If you have recently installed Windows 10 to a desktop or laptop computer and live outside the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany or Spain, Cortana, the highly-touted Microsoft intelligent personal assistant, won’t be functional.

Microsoft has explained that they have invested a significant amount of time and resources customizing the traits of Cortana for the Windows 10 and subsequent releases. Microsoft reported, for example, that the Chinese market show a preference for a personal digital assistant whose voice sounded like she was “smiling,” and that the English market asked for an assistant with a modest, “English rose” personality.

The nuances of language use around the world is something that Microsoft wanted to get just right with Windows 10. Forbes reports that with some minor upgrades, Cortana could wind up being Windows 10’s “killer app.” The premise of a virtual assistant able to handle menial tasks, à la a Star Trek computer-like assistant, is not without its appeal. Microsoft appears to expect Cortana to be a hit, and wants the first look much of the public will get at her with Windows 10 to be the best possible.

Cortana has been available to users outside the seven countries where Cortana is included with the desktop and laptop Windows 10 upgrade on tablets and smartphones since the release of Windows 8. Cortana is available on Android devices, as well.

Additionally, Cortana will be available to Windows 10 users enrolled in the Windows Insider Program in Japan and Australia, as well as in English in Canada and India, later this summer. Then, later in 2015, Cortana will be available to Windows 10 insiders in Brazil and Mexico, as well as to French-speaking Canadians.

How To Get Cortana For Windows 10 Now

What if you don’t live in any of these countries, or you just can’t wait? Is there any way to to turn Cortana on now? Brian Jackson, with IT Business, detailed the following workaround for users living in a country where the Windows 10 release didn’t include Cortana. However, it involves changing the Windows 10 “Country or region” setting, which Microsoft specifically advises against doing.

When trying Brian’s workaround, the system used for the test, located in Canada, suffered no ill effects, and Cortana did, indeed, come to life. The system’s settings were then immediately changed back, so that it was not exposed to undue risk.

Many different programs and applications that run in Windows 10, ranging from those calculating prices on shopping sites to those determining rights to movies, involve the “country or region” setting. Changing it to a country where the computer is not actually located could cause a number of unexpected results. If you must use Cortana now and decide to try this workaround, be prepared for the worst.

To Change The “Country Or Region” Setting In Windows 10

  1. Search “Region” in the search box of the Windows 10 taskbar.
  2. Select “Change your country or region” from the choices.
  3. In the drop-down menu choose “United States.”
  4. Then search “Cortana” in the search box of the Windows 10 taskbar.
  5. Select “Cortana & Search settings” and turn Cortana on.

This workaround is probably best used temporarily to give users the opportunity to try all the features of Windows 10 out. Waiting for Cortana to become available through the insider program is probably a better long-term solution, because of the potential problems running Windows 10 with the country or region improperly set can entail.

Here’s Cortana learning a user’s voice with Windows Central.

[Cortana Screenshot Courtesy Microsoft Corporation]

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