Microsoft and Amazon have just announced a rather surprising collaboration. Their digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa, have teamed up to (hopefully) give you a better experience. Digital assistants are starting to gain some traction and, arguably, the current undisputed champion of digital assistants is Amazon’s Alexa. Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri are close behind with Microsoft’s Cortana also in the mix. This new collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft will allow you to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, followed by Android and iOS in the future. Conversely, you’ll be able to access Cortana on Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show.
As our CEO, Satya Nadella, said in today’s Amazon press release, the collaboration between Microsoft and Amazon reflects our belief that when people and technology work together, everybody wins:
“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.”
By bringing Cortana to Alexa and Alexa to Cortana, I’m excited that we’re adding more value and choice for consumers and developers alike. Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s world knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana.
With Alexa as a guest on Cortana, Cortana users will now have another way of making their lives easier with a great shopping experience. Say you are at work, and you receive a text from your partner saying, “We’re running low on diapers.” In the future, on your Windows 10 PC, iPhone or Android phone, you could simply say, “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” and ask Alexa to order diapers using your preferred payment method for your Amazon account.
With Cortana as a guest on Alexa, Alexa users will have access to some of Cortana’s most useful productivity capabilities that help people stay organized and on top of what’s important to them. What if you’re making breakfast in the morning and need to know if you have enough time to drop off the dry-cleaning before work? On your Alexa device, you can say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” and ask when your first meeting is. If you won’t have enough time, simply ask Alexa to open Cortana again and set a reminder for the end of your workday to drop off the clothes.
With Microsoft dominating the laptop and desktop market in terms of installed operating system software, this tag team probably makes sense for them. Amazon’s place as one of the most popular online shopping sources paired with Alexa might boost Microsoft’s bottom line.