Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Alexa are going to work together

The enemy of Siri and Google Assistant is my friend.

Credit: Microsoft

Cortana and Alexa just went from being rivals to being besties. Microsoft and Amazon’s respective digital assistants are teaming up to work together later this year, the companies surprisingly announced today.

That means you’ll be able to tap into Alexa’s smarts via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs and Microsoft’s mobile Cortana apps, or access Cortana via Amazon’s Echo devices and Alexa-enabled phones like the HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 9. You’ll need to specifically summon the assist, however, by saying “Cortana, open Alexa” or “Alexa, open Cortana.”

The timing might seem weird with Cortana-powered devices like the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker launching this fall. But with both digital assistants owning a firm niche—PCs and Office software for Microsoft, smart speakers for Amazon—the collaboration helps them extend their reach without stepping on each other’s toes too much. Cortana and Alexa need to battle Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, and unlike the competition they aren’t baked into smartphones by default.

While the domain of digital assistants have largely been walled gardens to this point, Microsoft and Amazon are actively promoting how Cortana and Alexa work better together, as each focuses on different aspects of your life.

Amazon Echo Michael Brown

The Amazon Echo.

“Say you are at work, and you receive a text from your partner saying, ‘We’re running low on diapers,’” Microsoft says in its announcement post. “In the future, on your Windows 10 PC, iPhone or Android phone, you could simply say, ‘Hey Cortana, open Alexa,’ and ask Alexa to order diapers using your preferred payment method for your Amazon account.”

Handy!

Conversely, Microsoft writes, “What if you’re making breakfast in the morning and need to know if you have enough time to drop off the dry-cleaning before work? On your Alexa device, you can say, ‘Alexa, open Cortana,’ and ask when your first meeting is. If you won’t have enough time, simply ask Alexa to open Cortana again and set a reminder for the end of your workday to drop off the clothes.”

You could also use Cortana to ask Alexa to control your smart home devices, since many support Alexa skills. Which begs the question: Will this kill Microsoft’s attempts at bolstering Cortana support before it really gets off the ground? The Cortana Skills Kit preview only launched in May. Allowing Cortana to access the thousands of available interactions available on the wildly successful Amazon Echo could squash the dream of Cortana-powered appliances before it happens. Time will tell.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftamazon.comcortana

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?