Microsoft, Amazon Partner to Make Cortana and Alexa Work Together

Ann Santiago
September 1, 2017

That means Alexa users will be able to access Microsoft software by voice command, and vice versa.

Specifically, later this year, Windows 10 users will be able to call up Amazon's Alexa via Cortana.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, in a press release from Amazon, that "ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us". "There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialised skill areas". While the move is geared toward consumers, it also has deep ties in the enterprise and could set the stage for future deals.

The partnership will likely help Amazon and Microsoft gain an advantage over their closest rivals, Google and Apple.

Amazon has little to lose from the partnership, and Microsoft's Cortana - which has been largely limited to laptops - might get discovered by more users because of it, said Carolina Milanesi, a mobile technology analyst at Creative Strategies. Microsoft, despite success in introducing Cortana to Windows 10 users, has been slow to enter the smart speaker market. Alexa mainly lives in Amazon's Echo, a home-based device, and can perform thousands of tasks, including voice-only ordering from Amazon.com. Both the devices will soon be able to communicate and complement each other in harmony.


As The New York Times reports, both companies have been working together behind the scenes in the past year to make this collaboration a reality.

Of course, there can't be a conversation about digital assistants without including Siri and Google Assistant. Apple and Google lately entered the world of smart speakers.

It will be interesting to see how Apple and Google react to this integration news as both these tech companies also offer voice assistants to their users. For example, Cortana is intrinsically tied to Microsoft Outlook, while Alexa supports various smart home accessories and is incorporated into Amazon's online website and music streaming services. Devices like Harman's Invoke will have access to 300 million monthly active Skype users for calling and messaging. The companies plan to officially launch the Alexa and Cortana collaboration before 2017 ends.

"I want them to have access to as many of those A.I.s as possible", said Bezos in another interview last week.

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