Cortana, open Alexa: Microsoft demos voice assistant integration at Build

Last August, Microsoft shocked everyone by announcing integration of its Cortana and Amazon's Alexa voice assistants. It was supposed to happen before the end of 2017, but the end of the year came and went, with virtually no word from Microsoft.

Today at the company's Build 2018 developer conference though, it demonstrated the two voice assistants working with each other. And it works both ways too. First, the firm showed off accessing Cortana through an Amazon Echo. After that, it demonstrated accessing Alexa from Cortana on a Windows 10 PC.

It's unclear why Microsoft used a Windows 10 PC to demonstrate Cortana talking to Alexa, rather than a Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. It seems likely that it intended to show off each assistant's strengths, rather than put competing products onstage next to each other. After all, Cortana is most dominant in PCs, while Alexa is most dominant in smart speakers.

Obviously, each assistant is better at different things. Microsoft boasts productivity features in Cortana, and Amazon has tens of thousands of Skills for Alexa. But the most important thing is that it helps the end user's devices to work with each other. If you're an Amazon Music subscriber, you can listen to music with your Cortana devices, and if you use Microsoft services, you can access them from Alexa now.

Satya Nadella had started off by saying that it's important for our voice assistants to talk to each other. Obviously, Apple and Google didn't show up with Siri or Assistant, but it's something that we can at least hope to see in the future.

Cortana and Alexa integration is still in private beta, but you can sign up to learn more here.

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