Alexa and Cortana meet in new Amazon and Microsoft partnership

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Later during the year, Alexa and Cortana will be able to communicate on Amazon's Echo lineup of smart home speakers and everything with the Cortana system including Android, iOS and devices that use Windows 10.

Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. The concept of bringing the platform's knowledge as well as Office 365 integration and reminders to Alexa proved to be a good step in the achievement of that objective.

If Alexa and Cortana don't want to be remembered fondly by nerds in a few years, these digital assistants need to get aggressive, and working together to chip away at Google and Apple is a smart move.

"I'd welcome it", Bezos said while Nadella noted that "Hopefully, they'll be inspired by it". The thought was, it's better to offer access to as many digital assistants as possible so that customers can take advantage of the relative strengths of each offering.

The anticipated update will enable users to play music across all Echo speakers at once, inclusive of Echo Dot and Echo Show. Alexa's skillset is also growing rapidly: Amazon had only officially passed 10,000 skills in February, meaning it's offerings grew by more than 50% in just four months.

Amazon announced on Tuesday that its Echo devices can now act as multiroom speakers using Alexa.

Why do this? One big clue is this line in Microsoft's blog post: "Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders".

The unusual alliance started in May 2016 when Jeff Bezos raised the idea to Satya Nadella at Microsoft's CEO summit, which piqued the latter's interest. It was recently found out that Amazon's #Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana will be integrated.

Note: Alexa already uses the Bing search engine for its search results so these two companies and services are not total strangers. Meanwhile, Google's Assistant is now in smartphones and in its Home smart speaker.

Both companies will hope this goes some way to combat the rise in popularity of Apple's Siri, Google Assistant or Samsung's Bixby. Will they join the party?

The integration opens up new functionality for both digital assistants, giving customers the ability to access the unique capabilities of each platform.

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