Amazon and Microsoft have been teaming up and it is for the benefit of end users. The Seattle based eRetailer (and now grocery store owner) has announced a new skill for Amazon Alexa, the company’s personal assistant, that will allow you to access Microsoft Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant, from your Amazon Echo.
It may sound a little confusing but it is a big win for the some 145 million active monthly users of Cortana. Essentially, it works like this: If you have an Amazon Echo, you can say “Alexa, Open Cortana” and then give Cortana a command. This will allow you to access specific information that you have in Cortana but don’t necessarily want to have to duplicate in Alexa if you are a marginal Echo user.
Eventually, both Amazon and Microsoft want to get the integration to the point where users won’t have to specifically call out Cortana but rather the Echo device itself determine which personal assistant can provide the best answer on-the-fly and leverage it automatically.
The companies have been working on this integration for over a year and right now it is the only cross platform assistant to work with Alexa. Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant do not work although Amazon is open to having them leverage Alexa and Echo too. Both Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seem to both want to see Apple & Google join the party.
Mr. Bezos said he had not reached out to Apple or Google to invite them to join in the effort and does not know if they would want to.
“I’d welcome it,” he said.
“Hopefully, they’ll be inspired by it,” Mr. Nadella said. “At least that would be my hope.”
The timing is interesting for a lot of reasons. Amazon is said to hold about 70% of the smart speaker market already and Microsoft has their own smart speaker coming out later this year.
Source: New York Times