Amazon Alexa completes tie-up with Microsoft Cortana almost a year after deal

  • The integration gives Alexa and Cortana greater powers as they compete with Apple's Siri and Alphabet's Google Assistant.
  • Amazon and Microsoft are rolling out the integration to everyone in the U.S. as a public preview.
  • The companies will be asking users for feedback in order to improve the integration.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in front of the Cortana logo
Getty Images
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in front of the Cortana logo

Users of Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana can now access features of the other's virtual assistant, the companies announced Wednesday.

The integration gives Alexa and Cortana greater powers as they compete with Apple's Siri and Alphabet's Google Assistant. For example, a person with Cortana can now order products off Amazon or manage existing orders using voice instructions. Likewise, someone with an Echo could set up new calendar events and respond to emails with Cortana's help.

The move comes almost a year after the tech giants revealed the plan for their assistants to be able to communicate with each other and three months after Microsoft detailedhow the integration would work.

While Apple's Siri predated Alexa and Cortana, both of which showed up in 2014, Siri has come to be lacking in capabilities by comparison as more developers have sought to develop third-party integrations with other assistants. Alexa has more than 45,000 "skills" that developers have come out with, while Cortana has more than 250. And Amazon has the lead when it comes to smart speaker device shipments.

Amazon and Microsoft are rolling out the integration to everyone in the U.S. as a public preview. People with Amazon Echo devices can access Cortana through Alexa, while Windows 10 PC and Samsung Harman Kardon Invoke speaker owners can get to Alexa directly from Cortana.

The companies will be asking users for feedback in order to improve the integration. It won't be possible initially to do certain things, like streaming music and setting alarms. A Microsoft spokeswoman had no information about when the Alexa-Cortana connection will become available outside the U.S. and in other languages.