On November 4 in North America, Microsoft will launch Kinect with as much fanfare--and marketing muscle--as a new console launch. However, when the camera-based, controller-free motion-sensing system launches in Europe, Kinect won't have quite as much to hype.
Eurogamer is reporting that Microsoft has confirmed that at launch, Kinect will only recognize voice commands in four dialects of three languages: American English, British English, Mexican Spanish, and Japanese. French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and other European languages will not be supported. According to the report, support for various languages will be phased in next spring.
As for why Kinect supports Mexican Spanish but not the language's Iberian or South American dialects, Microsoft told the game site that there are 106 million Spanish speakers in the US, 13 million of whom it identified as "Mexicans with consoles." On top of that, Microsoft will reportedly lock out the voice commands by region, preventing anyone capable of speaking with an American, British, or Mexican-Spanish accent--or speaking Japanese--from using the voice commands.
During its press briefing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft made much of Kinect's voice commands. As can be seen in the video below, a demonstrator put the device through its paces by saying "Zune" and the Zune video marketplace menu popped up. He also paused and played a film with his voice, saying "Xbox, play" and "Xbox, stop."