Microsoft shows Alexa and Cortana working in smart harmony

Olive Hawkins
May 8, 2018

Satya Nadella had started off by saying that it's important for our voice assistants to talk to each other.

Microsoft's artificial intelligence assistant Cortana spoke through the Amazon Echo on stage at Microsoft's Build conference Monday, showing the working combination of the two companies' technology.

It's unclear why Microsoft used a Windows 10 PC to demonstrate Cortana talking to Alexa, rather than a Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.

In an onstage demo, Megan Saunders, Microsoft's general manger of Cortana, began talking to an Amazon Echo, adding milk to a shopping list, then commanded Alexa to open Cortana and tell her about her day.

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Taylor, from his "office" opened Cortana on his PC to get directions to a Seattle restaurant referenced in an email. It signed off with the signature Cortana chime.

So for instance, Cortana will now let you send a mail which was earlier not possible with Alexa. Alexa even declared that she likes Cortana. "We both have experience with light rings, although hers is more of a halo".

But the company also is embedding Cortana in more of its own apps and services, including its Teams workplace chat product; Outlook; and Windows (via the shell) to make it available to users where they are and in the context where they're working. Microsoft Layout allows Windows Mixed Reality users in defining a virtual floor plan and moves 3D models around in a VR headset while previewing how a room should look and feel.

For Star Wars Day, Google has prepared a handful of fun responses to Star Wars-related questions, such as 'Hey, Google, who shot first?' for those looking to see what Assistant has to say about the infamous Han Solo/Greedo face-off in A New Hope. Both playlists feature music from all the Star Wars movies, and you can get them playing by simply asking Alexa to play them.

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