Microsoft and Amazon play matchmaker between Cortana and Alexa

Javier Howell
September 1, 2017

Likewise, users of Microsoft's Windows 10 devices can say, "Cortana, open Alexa" so Cortana customers can access Amazon's network of connected smart home devices to turn on the lights, shop on Amazon's website, and order an Uber auto, among other things. Windows 10 users can begin using Alexa and Echo users can begin using Cortana by the end of the year.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, stated that ensuring the Cortana AI assistant is available for their customers is the company's main priority, according to Business Wire. "There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas", said Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, in a statement today. While the move is geared toward consumers, it also has deep ties in the enterprise and could set the stage for future deals.

The partnership, at first, will likely be bumpy, and it's unclear how deep the integration between Alexa and Cortana will run in the long-term. Cortana, meanwhile, offers a direct interface with numerous Microsoft productivity tools that are part of people's daily routines: the ability to book meetings, read e-mails, and set reminders through a voice interface.

If you crave an appliance-inspired smart speaker, you can purchase the Harman Kardon Allure this winter for $249 on Amazon. And both have very different strengths that complement each other. The integration will help both companies to expand and users will be able to use functionalities of both voice assistants. While Google's Assistant isn't talking to any of its rivals, at least not yet, the open SDK for integrating Google Assistant has led to a trio of new speaker products to rival Google Home. With the partnership users can get the best of both worlds and access features from both devices. He noted, however, that it remains to be whether Google and Apple, both of which have their own smart speakers as well as digital assistants on their respective mobile operating systems, would be interested.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella got the ball rolling at Microsoft's CEO Summit a year ago.

"I want them to have access to as many of those A.I.s as possible", said Bezos in another interview last week.

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