Amazon and Microsoft link up voice assistants

Posted August 31, 2017

Today the company confirmed that it has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to bring the Cortana Skill to Amazon's Alexa and Vice Versa. Similarly, the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show will be able to use the productivity features, such as calendars, of Cortana.

In the case of Windows 10 users, for instance, access to Alexa will allow them to manage any compatible smart home device and shop on Amazon all from their existing Windows device. He went on to point out that Cortana's knowledge, Office integration, smart commitments, and reminders would be assets to Alexa users. "In my view of the world, because that would be best for the customer, that's probably what eventually happens", Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said. Before, you would only be able to get the current Alexa device (ie, Echo) to play the music you want to hear.

By the end of the year, you'll be able to tell your Windows 10 PC "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" and talk to Amazon's personal assistant. "Hopefully, they'll be inspired by it".

Neither company is now working with Apple and Google, who offer the Siri and Assistant intelligent assistants respectively, according to the report.

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In a statement, Microsoft announced, "Cortana users will now have another way of making their lives easier with a great shopping experience".

This would mean that the Cortana Skills will now be made available for Alexa as well. With Alexa compatibility on the way, Cortana could become even more prevalent. "That resonated for me and for him, and then that's what led to the teams working". Indeed, other rivals in the space include Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant, each of which are now powering their own devices including Apple's HomePod and Google Home. But, as The Times notes, such a future may be unlikely since Google and Apple see their AIs as key differentiators for their mobile phone operating systems. However, Nedella did say that he'll welcome the companies if they do decode to join Microsoft and Amazon.

Now some of you might be wondering what took Amazon so long to add this kind of functionality when companies like Sonos have been doing multi-room music playback for years.