August 30, 2017 Last Updated 10:18 am

‘Alexa, open Cortana’: Amazon and Microsoft to allow Alexa and Cortana to talk to each other

Microsoft would like to see Alexa users be able to use it within its programs such as Outlook, while Amazon would like nothing better than to see Windows device users ordering from the online retailer using Cortana

The New York Times got an exclusive interviews with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ahead of today’s press release announcing that Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana will be able to talk to each other.

Cortana and Alexa

“The personality and expertise of each one will be such that if they interoperated, the user will get more out of it,” Nadella told the NYT’s Nick Wingfield. “That resonated for me and for him, and then that’s what led to the teams working.”

According to the NYT’s article on this, the fear is that NOT working together will hold back development of the two voice systems. It may be a response to the way Apple pursues things: closed, insular. Siri, as a result, remains a frustrating feature for most iPhone owners.

“Amazon and Microsoft partnering together to allow Alexa and Cortana to recognize each other and concurrently serve users is a welcome sign,” said Bradley Metrock, who is producing The Alexa Conference next January. “Not only does it enhance the utility of using Cortana and Alexa-enabled devices, but much more importantly, it heralds a future of broad cross-platform compatibility that will open new doors to individuals and organizations alike.”

For Echo and Android owners, the cooperation between Alexa and Cortana will not immediately result in a very practical solution. Users will have to instruct their device to open the other by saying, for instance, “Alexa, Open Cortana” — that is not real integration, and it is doubtful that users will understand why to do this. But if the company’s truly are going to cooperate, then one could see the development of one system, but branded in two ways, and possibly allow third party vendors such as TV manufacturers to integrate the voice system without worrying about compatibility issues.

Here is today’s Amazon announcement:


SEATTLE, Wash. — August 30, 2017— Amazon and Microsoft announced today that Alexa will be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa. You will be able to turn to your Echo device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”

Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana’s unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more.

“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

“The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon. “It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”

Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year.

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