Microsoft and Amazon are working together to make Cortana and Alexa friends

Isaac Cain
May 8, 2018

In its Build "future of modern meetings" demonstration, officials showed a prototype of a conferencing device on a desk that would pick up audio and video and pair it with Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Graph to provide automatic identification of meeting participants, real-time transcription and real-time translation. After that, a user can follow-up questions and commands such as "send an email", something which you wouldn't be able to do while using Alexa alone.

But the company also is embedding Cortana in more of its own apps and services, including its Teams workplace chat product; Outlook; and Windows (via the shell) to make it available to users where they are and in the context where they're working. First, the firm showed off accessing Cortana through an Amazon Echo. For example, Alexa customers would be able to access Cortana's productivity features, like booking meetings, accessing work calendars, or reading work emails.

The idea is for people to use Alexa for more personal stuff, and Cortana for work-related stuff. Taylor then booked a ride through Uber to his destination.

Microsoft said that the digital assistant integration is now only available in a limited beta but those interested can sign up here to receive an alert when it goes live. With this collaboration, Microsoft and Amazon both leverage individual capabilities of the two smart assistants.

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"This is the first step in a longer journey as intelligent friends in both the real and ambient world", Saunders said. Best part, it works both ways. Once you find that, you'll tap on "Assist app" and then choose "Amazon Alexa" instead of Google.

But, for anyone still interested in the prospect of combining the ubiquitous prevalence of Alexa devices with the productivity focus of Cortana, they can visit here to sign up to possibly join the next round of Insiders testing this new combination.

During the Microsoft Build 2018, the software maker announced its "Blockchain Workbench" for Azure that will make it easier for developers to develop and build Azure-supported blockchain network.

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