MICROSOFT HAS PROMISED that Windows Phone 8.1 users in the UK will get access to its voice-controller personal assistant Cortana "soon".
The imminent arrival of Cortana was teased on the Windows Phone UK Twitter account, with the tweet saying simply "soon" above an image of what looks like a Nokia Lumia 1020 with the icon for the Siri rival displayed on its screen.
Microsoft couldn't confirm an exact launch date, but speculation is that it likely will arrive on 24 June - the date when Microsoft will roll out its Windows Phone 8.1 update to the public. Microsoft's Joe Belfoire said that the slow rollout to other countries beyond the US is because the firm wants to offer everyone an "excellent experience".
Once it arrives, Microsoft claims that Cortana, which was unveiled in April, will be "more advanced" than competing services such as Apple's Siri and Google Now, as it refers to data stored on the user's Microsoft Account and search history to more accurately answer questions and provide relevant content. Cortana, which Microsoft refers to as "she", is also capable of supplemental and contextual questions to create a more conversational feel, according to the firm.
Once Windows Phone 8.1 rolls out, likely on 24 June, Cortana isn't the only benefit UK users likely will see. The update also brings features such as a pull-down Action Centre similar to that found on iOS and Android, the ability to set custom background images, enterprise VPN support and Microsoft's answer to Swype - Wordflow Keyboard.
If you can't wait until 24 June, it's easy for non-developers to download Windows Phone 8.1 now. Simply sign in to the Windows Phone App Studio website with a valid Microsoft account, select "start new project" and download the Preview for Developers app onto your Windows Phone 8 handset. µ