Microsoft demonstrates Cortana-Alexa integration at Build 2018

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Cortana and Alexa
Image Courtesy: Microsoft.com

We first heard about Cortana-Alexa integration when Microsoft
and Amazon announced the same back in August 2017.
Cortana-Alexa integration would allow Amazon Alexa users to
access Cortana and Cortana users to access Alexa.

There was a lot of work to do here as such a collaboration
between two big companies has a lot of formalities to sought
out. Well, it seems as though the companies have finally
figured out everything. Microsoft at the Build 2018 conference,
finally, showed off Cortana-Alexa integration in action.

The demo showed one user at his office and another user at her
home. The person at her home had an Amazon Echo speaker at her
kitchen. She uses Alexa to add milk to her shopping list which
is a natural thing as it is an Amazon Alexa powered smart
speaker but the next thing she did was ask Alexa to “open
Cortana”. The response that came was “Cortana here, how can I
help”. She then asked Cortana about her day to which Cortana
responded with relevant information. She also used Cortana to
send an email to the other person. So she could use Cortana
from an Amazon Alexa powered smart speaker. This was important
to her as all her personal information was known only to
Cortana as she uses a Microsoft account for all her work.

The other person, in the demo, said he was in his office.
People wouldn’t take their smart speakers to the office. So
what he had was his Windows 10 PC. He summons Cortana to ask
where Harvest Vine is to which Cortana replies and shows him
where the place is. Then he asked Cortana to “open Alexa” and
the response was “Hi there, this is Alexa, how can i help”. He
then asked Alexa to get him a ride to Harvest Vine. Alexa
booked an Uber ride for him. So he just used Alexa on a Windows
10 PC. There are a lot of things that Cortana can do and Alexa
can’t. Here, for example, he used Alexa to book a ride which
Cortana cannot do.

The experience is like two digital assistants inhabiting in a
single device. On Windows 10 PCs, Alexa shows up in the same
interface as Cortana does. In Amazon Echo smart speaker,
Cortana can be heard just like how Alexa was heard.

The important thing to note here is that this wasn’t just a
simple integration. It is a well-planned integration where the
users can have the best of both worlds. The good thing for
Microsoft is that now there is no need to sell Cortana smart
speakers as Amazon Echo speakers alone will also have Cortana
in it.



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