Amazon and Microsoft link up voice assistants

The domestic dominance of the Echo and the popularity of Windows 10 in the workplace will keep users’ connected at work and home.

Amazon and Microsoft’s voice assistants will soon be allowed to talk to each other.

The move is designed to bridge Amazon’s dominance in the home with Microsoft’s popularity in the office.

Putting Windows 10 and Amazon Echo devices in touch with each other is meant to encourage users to benefit from what both companies will see as a complementary range of services.

Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella has referred to Cortana’s integration with Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite, widely used in business environments, which would now be available to those with Amazon Echo devices.

In the home, users will soon be able to tell their Echo “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to their Windows 10 devices and say “Cortana, open Alexa” to access the respective range of services.

Alexa’s users will be able to access Cortana’s productivity features, including booking meetings, reading emails aloud, accessing work calendars – or “reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home” – using just their voice.

Cortana customers will in turn be able to use Alexa to control the smart devices in their home, shop on Amazon.com, and interact with the third-party developer skills available on the Echo.

“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” said Mr Nadella.

“Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

Disputing the notion there will be one single voice assistant which will dominate the market, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos suggested success will rely upon the services those assistants connect people to.

Mr Bezos said: “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 specialised skill areas.

“Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”

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