On the morning of August 30, Amazon and Microsoft announced that their virtual assistants are going to be working together. The two devices will have the ability to access each other:
Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana’s unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more.
The combined access to each other will be good for both companies. Alexa will benefit from the general knowledge and web-search capabilities of Cortana, as well as Office integration, and Cotrana will benefit from the distribution through Amazon hardware devices.
This goes along with the face that Satya Nadella’s (Microsoft’s CEO) vision to make Microsoft software tools available on rival platforms. “Later this year” is the slated time frame for the availability of the integration.
In the New York Times, there is an interesting story on the beginnings of the Microsoft-Amazon partnership, and the thinking behind it. According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, he hasn’t reached out to Google or Apple, but would welcome similar arrangements with those companies.
Some analysts predict that as many as 30 million virtual assistant devices in US homes by the end of the year. Based on the fast the market has been developing, the number could be a conservative one.