The lights are on
On November 22, 2013, Microsoft launched the Xbox One in 13 territories. Every single unit sold included a Kinect camera (with installed microphones). Three of those territories still do not have access to voice commands.
“Voice commands are currently available in 10 of the 13 original launch markets including: US, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Brazil,” a representative told us via email. “We’re working hard to bring voice functionality to additional markets, but have no other details to share at this time.”
Of those ten countries, only five (United States, UK, France, Germany, and Canada) have access to what Microsoft calls "premium/natural voice" and the "Xbox On" command (though readers tell us that is not the case for the French-speaking part of Canada). Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand, all launch territories, still do not have functioning voice commands. Microsoft also isn’t offering details on when that might be happening.
The One Guide feature, which allows users to get more detailed programming information directly from television providers, only launched in the United States. Some UK users have received access to the feature recently.
We reached out to Microsoft to inquire about its plans for the 26-country rollout this September to find out if Kinect will be fully functional in all of those territories, including Japan. Microsoft is not yet commenting on its plans.
“We have not yet shared details about the local experiences or voice functionality of the new markets coming this September,” we were told. “We’ll share additional details in the coming month.”
Microsoft reduced its launch territories from the 21 announced at E3 2013 to 13 just two months later. The company has sold in (to retailers, not through to end users) over five million units it announced earlier this week. In comparison, Sony has sold through (to customers) over seven million PlayStation 4 units in 49 territories.
Our TakeThe Kinect isn’t adored by gamers in territories where voice commands are working, and it seems particularly troublesome that there is no option for those that derive almost no benefit from the peripheral. If I lived in one of those three territories, I’d be steering clear of the Xbox One. Until Microsoft details what will happen in the upcoming 26, I would urge those customers to stay informed before making a decision.
I like the Kinect, but it also works here in the United States. I wouldn’t be as forgiving if I lived in Austria, Ireland, or New Zealand.