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Microsoft, Amazon team up to integrate Cortana, Alexa digital voice assistants

The partnership will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa, and vice versa, by the end of the year.

tech Updated: Aug 31, 2017 15:26 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore, of the Operating Systems Group, demonstrates the Cortana personal assistant. Photo: AP/Eric Risberg

Microsoft and Amazon have reached an agreement under which Cortana users will be able to use Alexa, and vice-versa. The move will give the two firms a big advantage over the competition, which includes Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri digital voice assistants.

According to a report in the New York Times, the two rival tech firms have been coordinating behind the scenes for the past year to make artificial intelligent assistants Alexa and Cortana communicate with each other.

The partnership will allow people to summon Cortana using Alexa, and vice versa, by the end of the year.

In simpler words, someone using an Alexa device will have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to get to talk to Microsoft’s digital assistant, and someone using Cortana will have to say “Cortana, open Alexa” to talk to Amazon’s.

According to the report, this cross-platform integration will also allow Alexa users to access some of the more unique aspects of Cortana. Microsoft has built its digital assistant directly into its office products and now Alexa will get that functionality via Cortana.

Amazon, Apple (with Siri), Microsoft and Google (with Assistant) are pouring huge amounts of money into making digital assistants smart.

While Amazon, Apple and Google have already launched smart speakers, Microsoft is preparing to launch a Cortana speaker with Harman Kardon and push its digital assistant into cars, thermostats and more devices.

After a partnership with Microsoft Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also welcomed Apple and Google to offer similar integration saying he would support it.

“There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas,” Bezos said.

“Together, their strengths will complement each other.”

Nadella also appears to welcome the idea of collaboration with Apple and Google, saying “Hopefully, they’ll be inspired by it”.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 15:25 IST