Microsoft recently started integrating Alexa & its services with Cortana in multiple software solutions. This overwhelming dominance of Alexa raised the possibility that Microsoft may ditch Cortana as a voice assistant & replace it with Alexa.
There were completely fair reasons behind this assumption though. Microsoft introduced Cortana several years ago & yet it doesn’t do much as a Voice Assistant. In fact, it is currently behind all of the other voice assistants including Google Assistant, Siri & Alexa. In the other hand, Amazon’s Alexa is currently the second most intelligent voice assistant after Google Assistant. So, many assumed that by integrating Alexa services, Microsoft is slowly kicking out Cortana from their Eco System.
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Later during Microsoft Build 2019, they showcased a revamp plan for Cortana & its features. Especially on the smartphone side. But, still, we weren’t sure how much of that we’ll actually see working in a proper way & will the case be different for PCs. Well, it turns out that Microsoft is keeping Cortana after all.
During the “Microsoft Ignite The Tour” event in Mumbai, I got the chance to talk to some of the Microsoft officials & they confirmed that Cortana isn’t going anywhere. Also, now we finally have a proper reason for this whole Alexa integration.
So what is Alexa Integration in Cortana about?
Well, according to my chat with Microsoft, it really has to do more with the massive collection of data that Alexa has. A Microsoft spokesperson said,
“No, Alexa is not replacing Cortana. In fact, we showcased a lot of new functionalities for Cortana in Build 2019. The Alexa integration will help us with access to the huge database of Alexa. Cortana is actually getting better with Alexa & we’ll keep improving it with time.”
This actually refers to Alexa’s search data which is used for answering the queries of the users that are asked on smartphones or their smart speakers. Clearly, the Bing ecosystem hasn’t been that useful for Cortana in the past. Alexa, on the other hand, is pretty good at what it does. So, having access to Alexa’s data will help Cortana to be much more responsive & accurate.
What does this mean for PCs & Smartphones?
Cortana on PCs has been a complete disaster till now. Microsoft even separated Cortana from Search, several months ago. So, it is possible that with the upcoming improvements, Cortana will answer user queries using Alexa while Search, will continue showing results from Bing.
For Smartphones, it’s kinda the same story as any other voice assistant. Microsoft is definitely going after Google Assistant with completely voice controlled task management. As we saw in the Build 2019, Cortana has received many features that can rival the Google Assistant. With the Alexa integration, they may just get the preference of the users who use the Alexa ecosystem regularly.
However, more seamless access between your smartphone & your Windows PC might finally be a thing just like we have for Apple (iOS-MacOS) & Google (Android-ChromeOS). Overall, all these Cortana improvements coupled with Alexa integration may just make Windows a better & more accessible ecosystem. This may also make switching ecosystems (MacOS to Windows and vice-versa) easier for the users.
So, Cortana is definitely staying & it’s getting even better. Will it be able to do things right this time? Well, we’ll definitely have to see how it turns out.