Microsoft looks to Cortana, Teams, ambient intelligence for smarter meetings

08 May 2018, 12:53 | Shawn Tate

Amazon Alexa is ready for Star Wars Day, just ask her

Alexa learns the power of the force for Star Wars Day

Microsoft and Amazon announced plans last August to allow their AI assistants to talk to each other - a move between the competitors that surprised many. Fast forward to the opening keynote of Microsoft's Build 2018 developer conference moments ago, both companies were on stage to show off the progress of their on-going work.

At the end of the demo Taylor Alexa what she thinks about Cortana. Similarly, by asking Cortana to open Alexa, Amazon's assistant becomes available on more devices, like a PC.

Alexa with Cortana and Cortana with Alexa will first be made available in limited beta, said Cortana general manager Megan Saunders.

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The reaction, as shown above, obviously received applause from the crowd who clearly understand the Halo reference stated within Alexa's reply. The response that came was "Cortana here, how can I help". For those with a Pixel 2, it won't work with the squeeze feature. He then asked Alexa to get him a ride to Harvest Vine. There are a lot of things that Cortana can do and Alexa can't. Taylor then booked a ride through Uber to his destination. Here, for example, he used Alexa to book a ride which Cortana can not do. Research firm Tractica estimates the enterprise market alone for voice-activated digital assistant software will reach $7.7 billion in 2025 and there will be more than 1 billion users by then. On Windows 10 PCs, Alexa shows up in the same interface as Cortana does.

As such, we doubt Amazon's Alexa will be cast in a film, but at least you can have some fun, in between getting her to control the music and other smart devices in your home.

The integration looks like a great first step, though we'd love to see more ways to have the user invoke either assistant, and perhaps even have them proactively "interject" based on the query.



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