Got Windows Phone 8.1 Dev Preview, Is Cortana Playing Hard To Get?

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The Windows Phone 8.1 developer preview became available yesterday, and the frenzy it created was palpable and continues still at this point. I think the bulk of the excitement was for folks getting their hands on Cortana, the new Personal Digital assistant from Microsoft. It is in fact in limited Beta, available legitimately for users in the United States only at this point, but the work around was to simply change your region to US and it would become available. The main issue seems to be affecting HTC devices, the 8X and the 8S. Confirmed here on two devices, HTC has locked the default language down on their phones, so without being able to change the language to English United States, you cannot enable Cortana. The other issue that has arisen is that you cannot access the advanced settings in Internet Explorer. At this point in the proceedings, it is probably a little early to expect a fix for the issue, but their are certainly a lot of people making noise about it over on the MSDN Forums.

For other users, not in the US the process of getting Cortana can be more complicated than just changing the region on the phone also

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Depending on what region your phone starts off in, it does not necessarily have English United States installed by default, so just changing the region settings will not enable Cortana in one simple step as most of the advisories say.

So as I found out after installing the Dev Preview on a Lumia 1320 and 1020, both Australian carrier devices, it took quite a few more steps to get Cortana running.

Of course first I did have to change the region settings, but that alone didn’t do it, rather than leave the settings at their default for language which are “match phone language”

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I had to manually change it to English (United States) which prompted me to download and install the language pack. Once installed further options could be accessed by tapping and holding on the language in the settings, [see screenshot above], and moving it to the top of the list. Still that wasn’t enough, from the same tap and hold setting, select the speech option, and change it to English [United States] and again you are prompted to install the speech pack for that option. Lastly from the same context menu, you will then get a prompt to install the US keyboard, which after it is installed you select. Each install runs like a small update. If you have done it correctly all four options pictured below will be evident and Cortana will appear at the top of the Settings/Applications menu, and you are good to go. Try it out as much as you like and change back to your own region when you need to, which will be if you want to purchase apps using your regional Microsoft account.

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If you don’t have Cortana after the update, and your language settings aren’t locked this should work with any Windows Phone.

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