Nearly a year ago, Amazon and Microsoft said they had worked out a deal to integrate their two digital assistants, Alexa and Cortana. You’d be able to get your Amazon Echo device to do things like check your Exchange email or set or check calendar appointments, while also being able to use Cortana to get Alexa to do things like turn on the lights, play Jeopardy, place orders on Amazon.com, access Alexa skills, and so on.
At the time, the two companies–which, of course, are fighting a battle for control of the cloud–said the integration of their bots would happen by the end of 2017. But that date came and went, and the two systems still weren’t working together. At Microsoft’s Build earlier this year, attendees did get a glimpse of the integration, but it still wasn’t publicly available.
Today, Amazon and Microsoft are officially unveiling the Alexa/Cortana integration. Asked about the reason for the long delay, an Amazon spokesperson explained to Fast Company in an email that this “is the first integration of its kind, and we wanted to make sure we got certain things right before making it available to customers.” More details will be released in the coming days, the spokesperson said.
The New York Times reported last August that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were “concerned that keeping assistants from working together could hold them back.” Now, the Amazon spokesperson says Bezos’s company would consider striking bot partnerships with additional companies “if a developer has a great AI and is interested.”
For now, Alexa will work in the U.S. on Windows 10 devices and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers, while Cortana will work on Amazon devices such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Spot.