How to enable Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 (but there’s a catch)

You’re Canadian, and therefore a nice person. You also lose out on a lot of great features from new products like Windows Phone 8.1.

If you’re taken the plunge and installed the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview, you may have noticed that, while Action Center is ready to go, and a bunch of other changes are noticeable, the one thing that has remained the same, sadly, is the Search interface.

But it’s not difficult to get Cortana working. In fact, it’s a simple switch in the Settings. Head to Settings/Region and change it from Canada to United States, and reboot your phone. Simple.


Cortana is very, very useful. She makes it easy to catch up on the latest news, send a text message, or find out the latest weather. The back-end has about the same functionality as Siri did when it arrived on the iPhone 4S in 2011, but includes some of the best context-aware aspects of Google Now, including flight info and more, accessed from mail accounts.

There is an issue: changing your region also prevents you from using existing payment methods in the Windows Store. Specifically, you won’t be able to pay for apps until you revert the region back to Canada. It’s a toss-up, and can be done: you can change back whenever you need to pay for an app and then return to Cortana the rest of the time. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Have you installed Windows Phone 8.1? If so, how do you like it?