‘Cortana, Open Alexa,’ Amazon Says. And Microsoft Agrees.

‘Cortana, Open Alexa,’ Amazon Says. And Microsoft Agrees.

August 30th, 2017
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In an unusual partnership, Amazon and Microsoft are working together to

extend the abilities of their voice-controlled digital assistants.


The crowded pack of voice-controlled digital assistants — Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana — are good at numerous things. They can help people play music, set up calendar appointments and check the weather.

They can even get two rival tech executives, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, to join hands in a rare partnership.

It is unusual for big tech companies to cooperate on important new technologies that they want to stand out from the competition. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google and nearly every other big tech company is pouring huge amounts of money into making digital assistants that are smarter and can do more, seeing them as a new way for people to interact naturally with devices and online services.

As an example, Mr. Bezos cited Cortana’s superior integration with Outlook, the popular calendar and email application that is part of the Microsoft Office suite of software. Because Microsoft controls both products, Outlook is integrated more deeply with Cortana than with other voice assistants.