Amazon and Microsoft have decided to work together in the AI voice assistant arena rather than erect barriers between one another. In a move that will ultimately benefit customers, Alexa and Cortana will be able to communicate with Cortana and vice versa. What that means is customers with Echo devices can say, "Alexa, open Cortana," while owners of Windows 10 devices can say, "Cortana, open Alexa."
You do not always see this kind of cross-platform cooperation between companies. Case in point, we reported last week that Microsoft has left the ball in Sony's court in terms of cross-platform play between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. While Microsoft has not always been open to the idea of playing nice with others, it has been for the past several years, pretty much since Steve Ballmer handed the reins to Satya Nadella, who became the CEO of Microsoft in February 2014.
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.
"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us," Nadella said. "Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal."
Part of the reason something like this could happen is because Amazon does not compete in the same productivity space that Microsoft does, for which Cortana (and now by extension, Alexa) acts as a bridge. When this all gets implemented, Echo device owners will be able to access Cortana's features, such as booking a meeting or accessing work calendars.
"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."
Amazon has the right perspective. At the same time, Cortana users will be able to summon Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop online at Amazon, and interact with Alexa's more than 20,000 skills.
Tip of the hat to both Amazon and Microsoft.