Amazon and Microsoft Begin Publicly Testing Alexa-Cortana Integration

Users of Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana can now access features of the other’s virtual assistant, the companies announced Wednesday.

A new report from CNET explains that the collaboration, announced last fall, is finally here in limited testing form. Those who opt in, using an Echo, Windows 10, or Harmon Kaidon Invoke device will be able to summon both virtual assistants on their devices. This collaboration includes most, but not all, of the virtual assistants’ features.

“The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life — at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient,” Microsoft’s Jennifer Langston wrote in a blog post. “Currently, Cortana and Alexa can each be enabled as a skill on the other.”

Cortana users can ask Alexa to shop for items on Amazon, manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s more than 45,000 skills. Alexa users will be able to get their hands on Cortana’s top abilities, like calendar management and email integration.

Microsoft and Amazon officials have said the goal of integrating Cortana and Alexa is to be able to carry out different tasks both at home and work on whichever device is most convenient. Cortana and Alexa can each be enabled as a skill on the other, Microsoft officials said today.

Many of the features common to both assistants — like reminders, timers, or adding events to your calendar — will be available through both Alexa and Cortana, but some features — such as streaming music, audiobooks, and news flash briefings — won’t be available at launch.

The partnership was first made public in a co-announcement in August 2017 featuring Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Both companies refer to the integration as an acknowledgment that we live in a world with multiple AI assistants.

“The world is big and so multifaceted,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “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.”