Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Amazon, Microsoft launch Alexa and Cortana integration public preview

Amazon, Microsoft launch Alexa and Cortana integration public preview

Via some slightly awkward syntax ("Alexa, open Cortana!") users can enable the skill on their Echo device and set up access to their Microsoft account. Microsoft has pushed back the arrival of the integration a number of times, but early this year at Build 2018 Microsoft finally showed off the technology in action.

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". Although Cortana has been available on Windows 10 devices since 2015, Amazon Echos had been on the market for almost three years before the Harmon Kardon speaker with Cortana was released last fall. After you first say the clunky phrase "Alexa, open Cortana" or "Cortana, open Alexa". Alternately, Cortana will be able to ask Alexa to set the temperature of the room through an internet-connected thermostat and access numerous third-party skills other companies have built into Alexa.

See, Alexa is like your Type-A friend who's all over everything: she can call you a auto, play you some tunes, and wake you the heck up in the morning! Both the companies are announcing the integration's availability in public preview, letting users use both the personal assistants on their device. Both iterations of this integration are handled as a skill on each platform, with Cortana being an Alexa on Echo devices and Alexa being a Cortana skill on Windows 10 devices. "An Office 365 customer could, for instance, ask Cortana to summon Alexa through a PC at work and use Alexa to order groceries or adjust the thermostat before heading home for the day".

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Microsoft and Amazon originally planned to make Cortana and Alexa integration available before the end of calendar 2017, but decided they needed more time to improve the cross-assistant experience. Given recent demos of Google's Duplex, the collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft has been dialed-up. "Engineers will use feedback from the public preview to deepen the collaboration between Cortana and Alexa".

"This is just the start for Alexa and Cortana, which means features like music, audio books, and flash briefing will not be available immediately".

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