Cortana and Alexa Integration Launches in Public Preview

Danny Woods
August 16, 2018

For Alexa, it means a foothold in every Windows machine capable of far-field communication (in other words, with the right microphones) and for Cortana, access to devices which use Alexa including the company's hugely successful Echo range and the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker. Microsoft showed off the new functionality at its Build 2018 developer conference, and now, it's finally live.

The New York Times reported last August that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were "concerned that keeping assistants from working together could hold them back". The launch is also coming, starting today, first to Windows 10 devices and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers, which can now summon Alexa. Get started with Cortana on Echo devices by saying, 'Alexa, open Cortana, ' and you'll be connected directly to Cortana.

Assuming you have a device with Alexa, such as the Amazon Echo, you can summon Cortana to perform actions like checking email, adding items to a to-do list, and getting an update on your calendar events. Microsoft also mentioned that this experience will get better and more accurate as they get additional data to improve underlying algorithms.

Just about one year ago, Microsoft and Amazon announced a major partnership: both the companies are teaming up to integrate their virtual assistants, Alexa and Cortana.

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What's most intriguing - and refreshing - about this move by Amazon and Microsoft is that it's so unexpected. Given recent demos of Google's Duplex, the collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft has been dialed-up.

Amazon teases that this is only the beginning of the relationship between Alexa and Cortana; it also warns that some features aren't available under the preview, including access to audiobooks, music, and Alexa's flash briefing.

This feedback will hopefully result in the inclusion of some now missing features, like music streaming and alarm clocks, as both parties intend to keep adding more over time. And ultimately, it would be nice to not have to distinguish at all: if I say "Alexa, what's on my calendar today?" one feels that Cortana should be able to answer anyway.

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