Just yesterday I wrote about Microsoft and AR from the perspective that despite their early announcements about the capability coming to Windows 10, they now seem to be playing catch up with Apple and Google after each of those companies made their own AR offerings known to the world.
Just the sheer breadth of their mobile OS and hardware market share will help both companies quickly take leadership of this upcoming and popular technology.
Unfortunately, that seems like a common scenario for Microsoft to be out front with the ideas and then get overtaken by others because of slow implementation within the Redmond company.
That is why this mornings news from Seattle seems to have caught everyone off guard yet not surprised in some ways because of Microsoft's recent efforts to go cross platform with as many of their products and services as possible.
The news I am talking about is the fact that Microsoft and Amazon have entered into a partnership that will see their digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa, gain the ability to communicate with each other on each company's platforms.
That means Cortana will be accessible from every Alexa device and Alexa will be available to every Windows 10 user through Cortana on their own devices. That will make for a whole lot of T.A.L.K.I.N.G. between these two with over 20,000 Alexa Skills that are currently available and Windows 10 being on more than 500 million devices.
Note: Alexa already uses the Bing search engine for its search results so these two companies and services are not total strangers.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had this to say:
“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
Amazon's Jeff Bezos added:
“The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”
No specific timing has been provided for when this mind meld will happen except that they will begin T.A.L.K.I.N.G. later this year according to both companies.
This is another excellent example of the approach Microsoft's Nadella has taken since he became CEO of the company in February 2014 - getting as many Microsoft products and services on other platforms as possible. It certainly fits in with his mobility of the experience mantra.
I do wonder what this will mean for the yet to be released Cortana enabled Harman/Kardon Invoke speaker.
Currently there is no word on when this device will be available to consumers but with more than an estimated 7 million Echo's already sold as of last December, it is likely going to be less expensive to get voice access to Cortana through Echo speakers then Invoke.
I guess we will have to wait and see about that and how the two companies will merge these services.