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Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana voice assistant integration is live



Amazon EchoElaine

  • A long-promised integration between the Amazon Alexa
    voice assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana, has finally come to
    life after a year of waiting.
  • To use it, just ask Alexa to “open Cortana.” Or, if
    you’re on a Windows 10 PC, ask Cortana to “open
  • Cortana has integrations with Microsoft Outlook for
    e-mail and calendaring that Alexa and other similar assistants
    don’t. Alexa, meanwhile, lets users 
  • It’s a part of Amazon’s ambitions to bring Alexa to
    every device. 

If you own an Amazon Echo speaker, you can now, finally, speak to
Microsoft’s Cortana assistant, if you so choose.

Also at long last, you can now use Cortana on a Windows 10 PC to
talk to Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

Anyone with access to either Cortana or Alexa can start using the
alternate assistant on Wednesday.

The intermingling of intelligent assistants comes almost a year
after it was promised. Last August,
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

announced their companies were teaming up to integrate Alexa with

In January,
Microsoft told reporters
that the Alexa integrations were in
the final stages of testing. But that was pretty much the only
public update from either company about the partnership since the
initial announcement.

Until now, that is.

If you’re talking to Amazon’s assistant from any Alexa-powered
device, you can now just say “Alexa, open Cortana.” From there,
you can access a handful of features that are exclusive to
Microsoft’s assistant. For example, you can have it read to you
emails sent to your corporate account or list your upcoming
appointments that were scheduled in Microsoft’s Outlook.

Similarly, from a Windows 10 computer, you can now say “open
Alexa” after you launch Cortana. You can then ask Amazon’s
assistant to do anything it could do on an Echo speaker,
including purchase items from Amazon, play songs from Amazon
Music, or play games such as “Jeopardy.” 

The companies are cautioning users that this is a public preview
of the integration of the assistants, not a fully baked release.

On its surface, the partnership between the two companies would
seem an unlikely one. Not only do Alexa and Cortana ostensibly
compete with each other, but Amazon Web Services and Microsoft
Azure, the two companies’ cloud computing services, are

However, the partnership is a strategic move for both companies.

Amazon, which failed to establish its own devices or operating
system as significant players in the smartphone market, has been
aggressively pushing its intelligent assistant, seeing voice as
the next major computing platform — and a key way to direct
consumers to its web store and services. The endeavor has been
dubbed “Alexa Everywhere.”

Every speaker, appliance, and, now, PC that you can use to talk
to Alexa can serve as a channel to the wide world of Amazon’s
goods and services. By most measures, Alexa is the leading voice
assistant, edging out the Google Assistant. The deal with
Microsoft gives Amazon another beachhead in its attempt to
dominate the market. Earlier this year, in a related move, Amazon
announced partnerships with
HP, Acer, and Asus
for special Alexa-equipped PCs. 

For Microsoft, the deal gives it a chance to promote Cortana to a
new audience. The company has long hyped Cortana’s integration
with Outlook and its other corporate tools in an attempt to lure
in users.

But in terms of catching on with consumers or electronics makers,
Cortana has trailed far behind Alexa and Google Assistant. Only
smart speaker on the market supports Cortana
. Microsoft’s
assistant integrates with far fewer smart home appliances than
its rivals, and there are fewer Cortana-specific apps.

By bringing Cortana to Alexa, Microsoft can potentially reach
users on devices other than PCs. But it’s an open question
whether Alexa users will actually take advantage of that option.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

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