One of the more compelling features of the upcoming Xbox One is its ability to understand voice commands. For example, the console should understand basic terminology such as “Xbox On”, which would subsequently power up the device. Unfortunately, according to the official Xbox site, voice-compatibility will be limited to just five countries at launch. The lucky recipients are the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany.
Albert Penello, Microsoft’s Director of Product Planning, went into a few more details about the restriction, explaining that eight different languages will be initially supported: UK English, US English, French, Spanish (MX), Spanish (ES), Italian, German and Japanese. After turning on the Xbox One, users will first be asked to select a language, and then asked to verify their country of residence. Although exact details are slim at the moment, Microsoft says that they will post a more thorough explanation to their website in the near future.
Interestingly, this announcement comes less than a month after Microsoft decided to whittle down the number of launch-supported countries from 21 to just 13. Instead of the consoles being available to all markets by November 2013, players residing in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands must wait until sometime in 2014 to get their hands on the device.
Despite reports saying that these delays are the result of production issues, specifically regarding the console’s lens and optical drive, Microsoft claims that these rumors simply aren’t true. Microsoft has attributed the delay to problems with localizing the Kinect voice-control features.
Regardless of the real reason behind the holdup, individuals living in non-supported countries can still import the Xbox One from places like the US. Microsoft has reassured customers that as a region-free console, all users will be given basic functionality, regardless of their location.