Microsoft and Amazon announce public preview of Cortana/Alexa integration in the US

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The integration is useful for Microsoft users, enabling them to control their smart home devices from their Cortana smart speaker or Windows 10 device.

The preview is finally here after several months of delay, after the first successful demonstration at this years Microsoft Build Developer Conference.

It's been nearly a year since Microsoft and Amazon announced that their virtual assistants will be able to work with each other.

As of this week, US users on Windows 10 PCs, as well as owners of Alexa-enabled devices from Amazon, will be able to summon the others' digital assistants to carry out some tasks by proxy.

If you want to have a try, you can either say "Hey Cortana - open Alexa" on a computer or "Alexa - open Cortana" on an Alexa device to log in to the other assistant's account.

What Alexa looks like through Cortana on Windows 10. Today, an integration between the rival assistants that's been in the works for about a year gets under way via the release of a USA -only public preview. Alexa users will have access to Cortana's knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and rich email integration. Both iterations of this integration are handled as a skill on each platform, with Cortana being an Alexa on Echo devices and Alexa being a Cortana skill on Windows 10 devices. You don't need to say "Cortana" or "Alexa" before your commands, but you still need to say "Alexa, stop", to turn off the service. From there, you have access to Alexa's full range of shopping (not that anyone seems to really care about that), music, weather, and so on.

Nearly one year ago exactly, Amazon announced plans to integrate Microsoft's Cortana with its Alexa personal assistant.

Upon doing this the first time, you'll be prompted with instructions on linking the two services; you'll also need a Microsoft account, which you'll have to sign into. Microsoft says the companies will launch "additional skills and features" in the future. Microsoft and Amazon promise to iron out such things with time. Microsoft says the integration will start rolling out to customers Wednesday and will reach all US customers within days.

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