"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us", Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, said in a statement that appeared on both Amazon's and Microsoft's website. Meanwhile, Cortana was announced by Microsoft in May 2015 and released for its Windows Phone product.
Amazon Echo device users will be able to ask Alexa to bring in Cortana as a "guest" to tend to tasks such as booking meetings or reading work email.
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 lovely (and unexpected) friendship.
The two companies say the move is recognition that people will use more than one digital assistant. And you can access more than 20,000 Alexa skills through your desktop or laptop computer.
Cortana is mainly used on PCs, while Alexa is used on Echo speakers that sit in someone's home.
The main thing to note here - aside from how clumsy it's going to be having one voice assistant summon another - is that Cortana and Alexa play in very different spheres; one being productivity and business user focused, and the other being ecommerce/entertainment and consumer focused. As it pertains to the AI voice arena, Microsoft deserves kudos for forging an alliance with Amazon, and likewise credit goes to Amazon for being accepting of the proposition. Later this year, Alexa will be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa.
According to The New York Times, the partnership between Microsoft and Amazon kicked off last May, with Jeff Bezos noting that he would welcome a similar integration with Google and Apple.
Note: Alexa already uses the Bing search engine for its search results so these two companies and services are not total strangers. That is highly unlikely at this point since Apple's Siri and Google Assistant are deeply rooted in their respective proprietary mobile operating systems, iOS and Android. Will they join the party? This is seen as a beneficial, as both companies are working towards beating the popularity and functionality of Google's own digital assistant.
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