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[Solved] How to Make Cortana Work on Windows Phone 8.1 Outside The United States

The promise of an effective virtual assistant can attract users to any device. Who wouldn’t want a helper who will strive to fulfill all your requests, won’t make a noise on even the wackiest of your whims, and yet fit inside the pocket of your Jeans?


Recently, Windows Phone 8.1 was launched with an onslaught of numerous new features and you can read about some of these features over here. The primary amongst these features is the new Virtual Assistant ‘Cortana’.

Borrowing its name from a character of the highly acclaimed  ‘Halo’ Video Game franchise of the Xbox and Windows platform, Cortana can grab you your news, provide information, open web pages, call & message contacts, open apps and in short do everything a respectable virtual assistant should be capable of doing.

For users on the Windows Phone 8.1 across the globe, and specifically those who are outside the US yet willing to try Cortana, there is one slight complication though – It doesn’t work on devices outside the US, yet.

Cortana is still in beta and therefore its speech recognition ability hasn’t been optimized for markets outside the US, nor has the supporting localized knowledge graph for markets outside the US been created. This gives Microsoft enough reason to restrict its function to the United States. This hiccup can however be very easily overcome by changing some localisation settings, and the following information will help you to do exactly that.

 language only

Changing the Language

The first localisation setting the user will have to change to enable Cortana on a Windows Phone 8.1 device outside the US is the Language to ‘English (United States)’ in the language module of the Windows Phone settings app. Adding the new language might even require a download from the user.


Changing the Speech language

Usually, changing the language setting would also result in a change in the speech language. If no such change has occurred, users can change the speech to ‘English (United States)’ via the speech module in the settings app as well. Again, a download of the speech data files might also be required.


Changing the Region

Next, the Region settings from the region module of the setting app will also have to be changed to ‘United States’. The region format should be set to ‘match phone language’. Right after changing the region settings, a reboot will be required.

However, it should be considered that while Cortana can be made to work anywhere in the world by following the information mentioned above, it might not be worth the inconvenience caused on a day to day basis on changing your Region. For example, the Microsoft App store might not open, or some apps might not be available on setting the region to the US when you are actually in, say, India.

Nonetheless, if you do change all the localisation setting mentioned above and create a virtual US location for your device and  yourself, a Cortana app would be available in the standard app launcher. Pressing the search button would also bring up Cortana.

cortana setup

The first time Cortana runs, it will take you through a setup process. Users can set up Cortana as per their personal preferences, or choose to skip this setup.


Cortana will learn both through user’s experience and input, and through Microsoft’s updates. in time, it is expected to grow into a reliable and productive Virtual Assistant. Nonetheless, how popular Cortana turns out to be and how beneficial it is in alluring users to Windows devices, only the future will tell.


Abhishek Bhatnagar

Abhishek Bhatnagar, a known technology blogger & YouTuber from India. A Software Engineer by qualification, now he works as the editor-In-Chief, Webmaster, & Managing Director at Gadgets To Use. He runs a number of other technology websites as well.