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Updated It has taken the best part of a year, but from today Microsoft fans can talk to Cortana through the vaguely creepy ears of Amazon's Echo devices and vice versa.

"Once you open Cortana, all voice data goes to Microsoft and not Amazon, and once you open Alexa, all voice data goes to Amazon and not Microsoft", said Amazon spokeswoman Dawn Brun in a statement past year.

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're on a Windows 10 PC or have Harman-Kardon Invoke speakers, try "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" or click the microphone button and say "open Alexa".

The companies announced last August that Cortana and Alexa would start communicating with each other. Both the companies are announcing the integration's availability in public preview, letting users use both the personal assistants on their device. "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", a Microsoft spokesperson told Thurrott.com. 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. Microsoft and Amazon promise to iron out such things with time.

Microsoft mentioned that it will ask its early users to engage with the new features and offer feedback like what they like, what they don't like, what features they use the most. With the partnership, Alexa users will be able to summon Cortana on their speaker or any other device, and Cortana users would be able to use Alexa on their device. 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.

"This is just the start for Alexa and Cortana, which means features like music, audio books, and flash briefing will not be available immediately". And ultimately, it would be nice to not have to distinguish at all: if I say "Alexa, what's on my calendar today?" one feels that Cortana should be able to answer anyway.


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