Microsoft surprised everyone with the announcement of Cortana-Alexa integration last year, but we've been left in limbo since then. The release target passed and no information flowed other that assurances that it would be coming soon.
At Build 2018 today, fans got a look at the integration, and it works how you'd expect. You can say “Alexa, open Cortana,” before invoking any of the digital assistant's functionality. Cortana has similar features, which is perhaps more exciting. With a command, users will be able to gain access to Alexa's set of 40,000 third-party skills.
The demonstration was provided by Microsoft's Megan Saunders, and included adding milk to a shopping list via Alexa, before invoking Cortana, viewing her schedule, and sending an email.
In response to being called on, Cortana answers, “Cortana here, how can I help?”. This should reduce confusion, with a similar “this is Alexa” response shown by Amazon's Tom Taylor, who also ordered an Uber.
No Set Release Date
The integration is starting to look very powerful, but the two companies have still been hesitant to reveal a release date. This isn't likely to change until they're absolutely sure about the integration, with internal testing underway now.
Microsoft has also launched a webpage that lets users subscribe to a newsletter for more information. It will tell you when the functionality launches in your country, as well as access to the limited beta when it launches.
Finally, Taylor ended the conference with a bit of fun. After asking what Alexa thought of Cortana, his PC said:
“I like Cortana. We both have experience with light rings, although hers is more of a Halo.”