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"Alexa, open Cortana" Microsoft and Amazon team up to integrate their voice assistants

The tech industry can be a ruthless place with cut-throat competition. On the flip-side, however, it may also compel two competing parties to come together and collaborate. Microsoft and Amazon have done just that by joining their digital assistant forces. The two companies are allowing Cortana and Alexa to communicate with each other, thereby leveraging each other's qualities.

The integration will be complete by the end of this year and would be, reportedly, a bit cumbersome to use. An Echo user would say: "Alexa, open Cortana" followed by their command and someone starting with a Cortana machine will have to say “Cortana, open Alexa.” The former could be useful to someone who would like to employ Microsoft's productive services without having to open their PC. The extent of this integration would be interesting to see, since Harman Kardon is releasing Cortana-powered hardware later this year and Amazon, too, is gearing up for the Echo 2.0.

The unusual alliance started in May 2016 when Jeff Bezos raised the idea to Satya Nadella at Microsoft's CEO summit, which piqued the latter's interest. Bezos believes that customers should have "access to as many of those A.I.s as possible.”

Nadella said of the partnership:

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

As to whether Google and Apple are receptive to such a digital crossover remains to be seen. If Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research is to be believed, such a thing would be highly unlikely as the companies are "trying to drive their own ecosystems". But, Nadella and Bezos remain hopeful.

Source: The New York Times

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