MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED that it will offer UK developers access to its digital assistant Cortana from next week.
While it has until now remained coy on UK details, Microsoft announced over the weekend that Cortana will be available in "developer preview" form in the UK next week, allowing developers using Windows Phone 8.1 to get to grips with the voice-controlled virtual assistant.
Microsoft group program manager for Cortana Marcus Ash announced the news on Twitter. Replying to a developer asking about Cortana's availability, Ash said, "Barring an unforeseen issue, down to less than [two] weeks for the developer preview."
Following its release to developers, Cortana will be made available to all Windows Phone 8.1 users later this year. Microsoft confirmed this to The INQUIRER, with a spokesperson saying, "Cortana will launch as a beta in the US this summer before expanding to the UK and China in late 2014. Additional market availability will come in 2015."
Although unconfirmed, it's thought that Microsoft's Siri competitor will boast a British accent when it finally arrives in the UK.
Cortana might give Siri a run for its money when it arrives, having defeated Apple's digital assistant in making World Cup predictions. Cortana correctly predicted 15 out of 16 World Cup results, including the final.
Microsoft said at the time, "A few weeks ago, we enabled the ability for Cortana to predict the outcomes of soccer matches from Brazil powered by prediction technology in Bing on devices running Windows Phone 8.1.
"Thanks to Bing, Cortana has accurately predicted the winner in 15 out of 16 games of those popular soccer matches (a near perfect bracket in the knockout rounds) which is pretty amazing." µ
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Users in the UK have until 11am Saturday to press the button