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Amazon teams up with Microsoft to integrate Alexa with Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft are teaming up to integrate their digital assistants. You'll soon be able to talk to Cortana by saying, "Alexa, open Cortana" from an Alexa-powered device like the Echo, and vice versa.

The integration opens up new functionality for both digital assistants, giving customers the ability to access the unique capabilities of each platform. Cortana is deeply integrated with the Office suite, and Alexa users will soon be able to access that information — which includes booking a meeting, viewing upcoming calendar events, reading work emails, setting reminders, and more.

Microsoft is set to launch Cortana-enabled speakers later this year, and teaming up with Amazon gives Cortana the ability to leverage Alexa's vast trove of skills, including the ability to control smart home products and ordering items on Amazon.com. From Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella:

Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.

Bezos said that the integration allows both digital assistants to complement each other:

The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. It's great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.

By pooling their resources, Microsoft and Amazon are better positioned to go after Google Assistant and Siri, but both companies seem amenable to partnering with the competition.

According to The New York Times, the partnership between Microsoft and Amazon kicked off last May, with Jeff Bezos noting that he would welcome a similar integration with Google and Apple. Nadella echoed a similar sentiment, stating that both companies will hopefully be inspired by Microsoft's partnership with Amazon.

The integration itself is set to go live sometime later this year.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

22 Comments
  • Well, I guess that just buried Harmon-Kardon's Invoke...before it was even launched... So, "Alexa, tell Cortana to..." seems a bit like having my people call your people to set-up a lunch. It's a shame Cortana can't just get the Amazon Skill so you can just say: "Hey Cortana, Set up a meeting with Jeff and buy Whole Foods." It's also a shame that, on Android - presumably iOS, as well - Cortana has but a fraction of the abilities she has/had on Windows Phone... Perhaps this deal will inspire the Goog to give her deeper access into the alien's code.
  • I don't think this will necessarily make the Invoke moot now, both can exist. I do think in the long run it'll greatly benefit cortana as an AI assistant.
  • I guess I'm a little confused. If you have an Echo and you have a PC with Cortana enabled...why is this necessary? I'm just imagining saying "Alexa, tell Cortana to..." and Cortana chiming in with "I'm right here...why don't you ask me yourself, jerk?".
  • Because not everyone has their Echo in the same room as their PC, or have multiple Echos throughout their home. This way they can communicate with Cortana without having to be in proximity of the PC.
  • This is great. There will be a wider range of cross service products that can be used, which would also expand Alexa to have access to third party platforms that work with windows. Amazon cloud and you local drive or nas even?
  • Wow, my echo dot becomes more useful everyday without me buying anything for it. They need to put these AIs in cars
  • You can put an Echo Dot in a car, if you're willing to tether it to your mobile data. Fits well in a cupholder.
  • This is really pressuring google, which seems unable to keep up with Amazon's pace. Google assistant is understood w/i goo as an esssential revenue generator for the nxt several years & is at the heart of their 'search' strategy (i.e. rev stream). Amazon is crushing it right now while Google appears to be mired in uncertainty (do we integrate and to what extent and with whom & if so what do we need to control and what can be compromised?)
  • Amazon is really crushing Google this time. 1. Alexa on more devices than Assistant.
    2. Fire TV Stick is outselling the Chromecast.
    3. Echo has a near monopoly on the assistant speaker market.
  • 1) Google Assistant is on all device with Android 6.0+, which has to be more than Echos, plus Android Tablets and Watches. Plus Google is on Google Homes and the new speakers announced today from 3rd parties.
    2)Fire TV Stick is out selling Android TV, but this article claims Chromecast is outselling the Fire TV stick. (From 2016) https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/04/09/whats-the-best-selling...
    3) Headstart =/ Monopoly. I imagine Echo is only in a small amount of homes. With the additional speakers announced today (/over this week) Google Assistant Speakers/Google home will sell more. There is finally a sub-$99 Google speaker ($70 dollars from Ancher).
    Plus I see the Apple Homepod taking a big chunk of the market. I atleast hope they will because competition helps everyone.
  • most of that seems right, except this: "I imagine Echo is only in a small amount of homes." it's really popular. i alone have 6 Alexa devices (Dots and Dashes) in my apartment.
  • Alexa is pretty much US only; that is 1/20th of the world. Same for the other AI assistants, to some degree or other. The winner will be the one to actually reach any international capacity first. Until then it's merely a gimmick...
  • Not True in my experience. I'm in the UK and Alexa is really popular here. Got 4 in our household, many of our friends and family either have one or will be getting one soon. Most people I know (from all walks of life) are aware of what it is too, such is the power of Amazon (everyone and their mother and their grandmother shops there). By contrast most (outside of techie circles) don't know what Google Home is and have never heard of Cortana.
  • Maybe he should have said 'english speaking nations'. Both google assitant and siri are available in the netherlands. Amazon is non-existent here and cortana is 'not available in my region'. Compare google assistant to siri and you'll understand that google isn't threatened here. I assume we're not the only country microsoft can't be bothered for.
  • The on-phone assistants might be available in the Netherlands, but Google Home isn't (and doesn't seem to be planned – https://m.androidcentral.com/what-countries-support-google-home ) and HomePod probably won't either. Echos (I don't like spelling "Echoes", looks wrong to me as a plural product name) are also available in Germany. And now allow setting location to Australia and Canada, even if not sold there.
  • I already have ability for my Echo "talk" with Google through third party hack where I can say "Alexa ask Google....". And there's a skill already to add events to Google calendar. So seems it would have been natural for Amazon to partner with Google as already demonstrated it can work. This just seems clumsy, and what % of users are really integrated with Cortana? Not many is my guess. This looks like Amazon is just giving the fully extended middle finger salute to Google.
  • Just curious why you think here is a small number of users integrated with cortana? Cortana is on all windows 10 PCs. Obviously not everyone will use it, but that is a lot of users who do have access to Cortana.
  • Yup. Pretty much like the number of Android users actually using Google Assistant - 0.1%...?
  • Not sure if you accidentally replied to me because your reply doesn't really seem to apply to my comment, but my point is that we don't have hard numbers, as far as I'm aware, on the percentage or number of people who actually use Cortana
  • Cortana is only available in certain regions. In all other regions, she's disabled, or the region has to be set to any english speaking nation, which renders the store uncapable. I don't think cortana is used much worldwide.
  • The world is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave! Human Sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... Mass hysteria!
  • Everything else I can easily handle and doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but... dogs and cats living together? Now that's just crazy talk. Never happen.