Published: Thu, August 31, 2017
IT | By Jonathon Greene

Cortana and Alexa are coming together as a Partnership

Cortana and Alexa are coming together as a Partnership

Users of Microsoft's Cortana assistant will have access to Amazon's popular network of third-party skills.

Amazon Echo users will soon be able to access Cortana's set of features by simply asking Alexa. Amazon is said to control 70 per cent of the home speaker market with 10 million Echo devices sold over the last three years. Users will need to ask their Alexa device, "Alexa, open Cortana", and anyone using Cortana will need to say, "Cortana, open Alexa" to switch from one assistant to the other.

Cross-platform integration will mean Alexa users will now more easily be able to access Cortana's Microsoft Office skills and Cortana will be able to fill the hole in its wider skills gap by allowing its users to call on Alexa.

If you own a Windows 10 PC, you will soon be able to use your voice with its built-in Cortana assistant to access Alexa on Amazon's supported devices, such as its Echo speakers. It's likely both Bezos and Nadella had Apple and Google at the top of their minds when they agreed to the partnership.

Bezos said he also would be open to integrating with other assistants such as those made by Apple or Google, although he has not been approached to do so.

Amazon and Microsoft are making a big splash with the announcement that their virtual assistants, Cortana and Alexa, can now talk to each other.

Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana join to form highly unexpected alliance.

Now, you can use the Alexa app to create "groups" of Echo devices that you want to sync up.

For Alexa users, the Cortana integration will be just as powerful. You can then tell your Echo device "Alexa, play Smash Mouth downstairs" and playback will begin.

Bezos revealed in an interview that he believes that people should have access to as many artificial intelligence (AI) assistants as possible.

To enable that capability, Amazon today announced new tools that will let developers bring multi-room music control to their speakers. 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. Tip of the hat to both Amazon and Microsoft.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, also heralded the collaboration.

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