First Look: Amazon Alexa on Windows 10

Posted on January 9, 2018 by Brad Sams in Hardware, Windows 10 with 19 Comments

At CES 2018, one of the big trends for PC makers is to bring Alexa to Windows 10. While fans of Cortana may not be too happy about this, having a choice is always a good thing.

I got to spend a little bit of time playing with Alexa on HP’s Wave PC and it works quite well. If you are familiar with Alexa on your smartphone, the assistant works exactly the same on the PC.

The computer I tested this on has microphones and an indicator light built in so that you do not need to manually launch Alexa for it to work. While you can hit cntrl+shift+a to launch the assistant, simply saying “Alexa” worked every time, even in the noisy conference room.

If you are looking for Alexa to control your PC, that doesn’t appear to be possible yet as it only operates within its current ecosystem. What this means is that searching your PC is still done with Cortana which puts you in an awkward situation of using two different assistants on the same piece of hardware.

For now, it looks like Alexa is locked to the new machines but seeing as it is only software, I don’t think it will take too long for it to show up in other places. Once we are able to get our hands on Alexa outside the CES show floor, we will do a deeper dive into the app and its functionality.

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Comments (19)

19 responses to “First Look: Amazon Alexa on Windows 10”

  1. Roger Ramjet

    So, why isn't it straight up "just an App" in Windows store. What is the backstory behind this frenemy stuff where they are preloading by doing deals with PC makers like Netscape or McAfee or something.

    • Marius Muntean

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      because no one cares about that pathetic UWP and that junk store. stop dreaming!

      • warren

        In reply to Marius_Muntean:

        No one? *I* do! There, you're wrong.

        And why do I care, you ask? Because UWP apps can't drop files all over my filesystem, they always, ALWAYS close cleanly, installing and uninstalling is consistent, and I can see how much CPU and data each app has used over the past several weeks. All of this applies to Win32 programs that have been turned into Store apps as well.

        Like, i can tell you right now that in the last month, on my work machine, Spotify has used 2.1 GB of data, Slack has used 360 MB and Photos has used 30 MB. I could tell you how much CPU time, too, down to the second, if I could be bothered to type it out.

        Can you tell me that about your Win32 apps? No, you fucking can't, so you can fuck right off with your negativity and FUD.

        • Rickard Eriksson

          In reply to warren:

          The only problem i see holding back UWP apps is that the sandbox approch prevent certain programs to work as they do today.

          Until developers update old programs and ensure new ones have the full functionality of old programs UWP programs remain a nutered experience.

          I can understand those that do not want anything to do with the store but last i checked UWP programs work outside the store as well so that is a moot point.

          I will gladly use UWP apps the day its more then glorified shells for an webpage.

          If it can not provide the same experience as the old wi32 programs or better it will never take over from the win32 era.

        • Bats

          In reply to warren:

          Lol... Who the heck else, besides you, actually cares about app specs?

  2. JimP

    Paul, were you able to tell if it was a Win32 or UWP app?

    • jerrynixon

      In reply to JimP:

      I can tell by looking. No. It is not a UWP app. But it still might be delivered through the Store by using the Desktop Bridge. Here's hoping. I imagine they elected Win32 so they could offer the app to Windows 7 users as well as Windows 10 users. The UWP sandbox might not accommodate some of the things they might want to do in the end. I can come up with some features that might not. Still, I can see, for one, that the control button box is missing and I know, for a fact, that UWP does not allow removing it. Not yet at least.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to JimP:

      Sadly, probably Win32 with a feeble, shittily written updater that runs alongside the 41 other piss poor updaters that load at boot time.

  3. jerrynixon

    I can't help but wonder. Is this an Amazon product or an HP product leveraging the Amazon API?

  4. Tirith

    What would be nice, should that co-op with Cortana and Alexa ever come together, would be if you could simple choose your front end interface. However depending on what your wanting the appropriate Assent handles it, seemlessly So I can say, "hey Cortana turn on the bed room lights" which are powered by Belkin's WeMo, and Cortana know to send that to Alexa. Or I can say "Hey Cortana turn off the Pool lights" which are powered by Insteon, and integrated into Cortana, so it just handles it.

  5. jimchamplin

    Can you type to Alexa? It’s the thing I really love about Cortana.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    Amazon could have done the right thing and put this on the Store instead of taking the bloatware route - how will the assistant be updated without impacting the user experience of an unassuming laptop purchase?

    Of course, because this is Windows, when you give people a choice, everyone will treat the platform like shit unlike competing platforms where you're forced into a gatekeeper's rules.

  7. mi11sy

    "For now, it looks like Alexa is locked to the new machines but seeing as it is only software, I don’t think it will take too long for it to show up in other places"

    Would there not be a requirement for a better microphone than ships in existing laptops? Saying "Alexa" and not getting a response, unless you are sitting in front of your device, could detract from the experience found with Alexa devices to date.