Microsoft and Amazon forge unlikely alliance to bring Cortana and Alexa skills together
Alexa, open Cortana. Cortana, open Alexa. Whether you’re the proud owner of an Amazon Echo device or use Microsoft’s proprietary voice assistant to more easily find stuff online, set reminders or access work calendars on a Windows PC, getting the two AIs to collaborate will soon be as easy as uttering those three little words above.
That’s probably not the most seamless method Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella’s tech giants could have come up with to pair their so far rival services, but it may only be the beginning of a beautiful (and unexpected) friendship.
Down the road someday, both Silicon Valley CEOs envision a world where “multiple successful intelligent agents” will “complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience”, combining their different strengths, sets of data and specialized skill areas.
Then again, Bezos, who pitched the idea of an unprecedented Amazon – Microsoft partnership to a surprisingly receptive Nadella way back in May 2016, admitted in a New York Times interview he didn’t also reach out to Google and Apple.
That’s probably because it’s highly unlikely the two companies will ever agree to open their Google Assistant and Siri “skills” to Alexa and Cortana integration. Needless to stress therefore the momentous occasion we’re witnessing today, though technically, Alexa and Cortana will “begin talking to each other” sometime “later this year.”
Microsoft’s CEO emphasizes Office 365 support, “commitments and reminders” as the main assets Cortana brings to the table, with Alexa allowing users of the other AI-powered agent to control various smart home products and shop on Amazon.com by voice without having to buy an Echo.