Microsoft Cortana’s integration with Amazon Alexa has gone without much fanfare more than three years after its launch. The connection ended on September 18 but received no advertising at the time.
Cortana’s presence on Alexa devices has provided Microsoft with a way to bring its voice assistant to a much larger audience than the increasingly rare native Cortana products at the consumer level. Dissolving the connection means that asking Alexa to use Cortana doesn’t cause Alexa to say, “Sorry, the Cortana skill is no longer available.” The decision is not surprising now, but it is worth remembering how Microsoft and Amazon made plans to link Cortana and Alexa in 2017. Alexa was relatively new to the scene and gave her the ability to run programs. Microsoft like Outlook through Cortana seemed like a very attractive use case for those who are reluctant to buy an Echo smart speaker. Microsoft and Amazon are still partners in other ways, such as the Voice Interoperability Initiative. Alexa still works on Windows PCs, but only after downloading the app from the Microsoft Store, just like Cortana with the release of Windows 11.
Microsoft began to move away from Cortana as a consumer experience when it released the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise. The Cortana app closed this year, and the Harman Kardon smart speaker no longer uses Cortana as a voice assistant. However, Cortana is far from gone. Microsoft continues to add new voice AI features to its mobile apps and has fully integrated Cortana into its Microsoft 365 products. Microsoft Outlook has also integrated Cortana, allowing users to set up and confirm meetings by voice, and is a key part of the Teams platform. Cortana hasn’t completely disappeared from devices either, although it is practically the case with smart speakers. The voice assistant runs the new Microsoft Surface Hub and Lenovo ThinkSmart View touchscreen computers. While specializing in using Teams, the devices share similarities with Microsoft’s latest laptops, which can function as voice-activated smart displays.
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