Cortana, Meet Alexa: Digital Assistants Will Talk to Each Other

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. Alexa can control smart devices in the home, shop on Amazon, and has more than 20,000 skills provided by third-party developers.

While the New York Times is reporting that Amazon has almost 70 percent of the smart speaker market (and that will likely increase as Alexa comes to Sonos speakers later this year) and Microsoft has 145 million active Cortana users thanks to Windows 10, both are still trailing behind Google and Apple. Amazon Echo users may ask Alexa to bring in Cortana as a guest to tend to things like booking meetings or reading work emails. "Hopefully, they'll be inspired by it", added Nadella.

Two companies - #Amazon and Microsoft - are reported to be joining forces on the digital assistant front. In addition, the Echo speakers will soon be able to access Cortana.

"This agreement makes strategic sense as Alexa gets access to over 500 million Windows 10 seats and also gets access to high-quality productivity skills", Moorhead told SiliconANGLE.

Alexa and Cortana will be able to talk to each other starting later this year.

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So, for anyone using an Alexa device it'll be possible to access Cortana by saying "Alexa, open Cortana" and vice versa for anyone using a Cortana-enabled device.

Now there is no word on when this device will be available to consumers but with more than an estimated 7 million Echo's already sold, it is likely going to be less expensive to get voice access to Cortana through Echo speakers then Invoke.

According to an interview with Microsoft's and Amazon's CEOs by The New York Times, Amazon's Jeff Bezos first approached Microsoft's Satya Nadella in May 2016 about enabling their assistants to communicate. Apple's Siri has been the digital assistant inside iPhones for years and will power the forthcoming HomePod. Also, since Alexa and Cortana can now talk to each other, Alexa will be able to answer some of the same questions that Cortana can answer. Google, of course, has Google Assistant built into the Google Home speaker as well as select Android phones. However, Nedella did say that he'll welcome the companies if they do decode to join Microsoft and Amazon.

And, to be clear, there seems zero chance of Apple and Google inking on the interoperability line, given they control the two dominant mobile ecosystems and therefore have different strategic ecosystem priorities vs Amazon and Microsoft (the two companies which, let us not forget, lost out in the mobile platform race).

  • Toni Ryan