Microsoft’s Still Working On Cortana/Alexa Integration, No Timeline for Release

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Brad Sams in Microsoft Consumer Services, Hardware with 18 Comments

It was in August of 2017 that Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership that would allow the two digital assistants to have a playdate. Both companies said the cross-talk feature would be enabled by the end of 2017 but as we all know, that didn’t happen.

When I pinged Microsoft and Amazon about the missed deadline earlier this year, both companies said the functionality would be enabled “soon” but soon apparently that means more than two months time. But, for those looking hope on the horizon, the functionality will eventually arrive as the company stated today that they are continuing to test the feature.

On the Windows Insider podcast this afternoon, the team said, at the 1h 5min mark, that the internally, employees are now testing the feature via self-hosting but we don’t have any update on a release timeline. While we would love to know when this functionality will be enabled, considering both companies have been quiet about the feature, I was worried that it may have quietly been killed; at least we now know that it is still on the agenda.

There were a few other announcements during the podcast but one notable item is that “Hey Cortana” will soon be shortened to simply Cortana, and if you have an Invoke, it can now read messages from Outlook on Windows 10.

Considering that Cortana has a new VP, I’d expect the see the expansion of the digital AI to become more aggressive. That being said, this mentality should have been adopted from the start as Microsoft now finds itself behind Amazon and Google in the personal digital assistant race.

Tagged with , , ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (18)

18 responses to “Microsoft’s Still Working On Cortana/Alexa Integration, No Timeline for Release”

  1. JSkardzius

    Cortana rather than hey cortana is only on the invoke. The email functionality is across all PCs, and the invoke, but not IOS/Android yet.

  2. bleeman

    I'm right there with you. Time and time again they bring out something that gets us excited, interested, and then NOTHING!! One of the best things about retiring is I don't have to put up with my peers giving me crap for being a Microsoft "fan boy" any more. My Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One S are still doing what I need, so I'll keep them. But not much interest in what Microsoft is doing going forward. Loved Cortana on my Windows Phone. The ability to "call" her when driving and then interact hands free was great. Where is it now? Gone! As much as I loved the interface, features etc. I've given up on it and now use Alexa instead. Watching yesterday's presentation felt like the same old spiel Joe Belfiore used to use for Windows Phone. After all the years of his hype, "..coming in the next release..." I've finally learned not to pay attention to anything he has to say anymore as well.

  3. Winner

    The job of leading Cortana evolution would be one I wouldn't want to have.

  4. PSSnyder

    Having been a MS user since DOS 1.0 it really bothers me to see MS continue to just not get it. Nadal sees the future but he does not understand that the beaucratic attitudes make MS oblivious to the real world (remember IBM and the PC). The obvious concensus among managers is that if we build it they will come, that is the only explanation for dozens upon dozens of half baked apps like To-Do which are forever in testing with only 25% of the features of the Wunderlist app they replace. That is insanity.

    I continue to use products like Xamarin with the hope that they don’t sabotage their own software. If MS does not wake up, stop thinking they have the best talent that simply needs to tweak the products, and actually choose to compete in the consumer market - consumers who are CEO’s too will eventually wonder why they should not give Google or other third party business software a real chance. This is especially true as we move to hybrid business platforms.

    Cortana is already a niche product, like the “luxury” market mentality of Apple management has allowed Siri to become, which likely only has a bright future if it can help other assistants be as smart as Google. The best option is to form long term relationships with one or two other assistants so that Cortana is deeply integrated and cannot simply be dumped when the other assistants graduate college and go for their Phd’s.

  5. PeteB

    Ahh the windows mobile of digital assistants, the fourth horse in a 2 horse race (Siri has also really gotten bad lately).

    They haven't added a language in more than a year, it still doesn't really work outside the U.S., it gets ignored on the desktop (nobody has a live microphone on their PC nor wants to yell commands at their PC), and MS abandoned cortana's mobile home.

    I don't think Microsoft even remembers why they went down this road.

  6. ponsaelius

    Good news for Microsoft customers outside the USA where no Cortana speakers are sold. I have my echo ready.

    It would be great if Cortana was fully functional outside the US as well.

  7. seapea

    for the Invoke I don't have to say "hey Cortana" now, just say "Cortana". Don't thing i ever had to say "hey" with it.

  8. BlackForestHam

    Nobody cares.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to BlackForestHam:

      Indeed. Nobody cares about Cortana - that's pretty obvious, and when I say 'nobody', I actually mean 99.999% of the population. Alexa and Google Assistant, and to a lesser extent the (very) dumb Siri are where it's at. There wasn't any room for a third mobile ecosystem according to Nadella, and there's even less room for a fourth 'assistant'. Just look at how Samsung are struggling to get any traction for Bixby, even on their own hardware.

      I think Amazon realized, because they don't have a mobile presence to carry Alexa forward, they're just using and abusing MS to get leverage on platforms they don't have direct control of. MS probably think they're getting a good deal, but they're really just Amazon's b*tch.

  9. rlbumpus

    My Invoke answers to Cortana, but she just told me "I'm sorry, I can't search email yet" when I asked her "what are my messages"

  10. Roger Ramjet

    If it were on the new VP to save Cortana as an AI assistant in HW products, then she is doomed. I mean what is the lead time for someone new like that to be effective and consumers start seeing third party products? Given how far ahead Google and Alexa already are, a new guy just can't make that lift. The third party OEMs aren't gonna bet on some hero no matter how well credentialed. They better already have differentiated approaches in the pipeline and close to market for this guy to implement. I did see a patent app that looked promising that sorta combined a deskphone and speaker, its just the sort of "update old tech" thing that should be easy to implement and could provide productivity differentiation. You know, just like cheap speakers that Amazon and Google did and Microsoft stood pat.

  11. Bats

    I wonder if this is going to work like Mercedes Me and Google Home/Alexa? For those who don't know, "Mercedes Me" is sorta built into Google Home and is a "skill" for Alexa. What "Mercedes Me" does is an Digital Assistant inside the digital assistant, that can start my car, lock the doors, and other things. I haven't used it much for Alexa, but for Google Home, I would say "Hey Google, Let me speak to Mercedes Me." The Google Assistant would say Ok, and then another voice comes on and introduces herself as Mercedes Me and offers to start my car, lock the doors, and do other things.

    I wonder if this Cortana integration with Alexa is like Mercedes Me with Google Home/Assistant. If it is, it's not

  12. JudaZuk

    No Timeline for Release? I already know when it will be released, and it is not a big secret either... they will release it to late and when it is no longer relevant ..because that is what Microsoft do nowadays.

    Under Satya there is no longer any passion ..they mess around with something, show it up to early ..then take to long to release anything real ..and when they finally release what ever services or product they finally come up with.. it is to late. The competition have already taken their initial idea an taken over.... and Microsoft when then finalyl have a released product..they show it no support what so ever, they don't market it at all.. they do not even talk about it after the first week of abandonment .. then they kill it a year or a few year later "because it never took off"

    Look at Skype ..what have they done with that..they talk about big changes, big amazing improvements..... nothing happens .. nothing happens again ..and they in the end have taken something that had global domination, to something that is irrelevant today for most people

    Groove Music as well .. had great potential and it started like they where really going for it after the rename to Groove etc.. then they stopped talking about it .. they ignored the product for the longest time ..they started loosing artists family plan , no nothing... then they kill it because to few people used it ... well you never did any marketing. . hardly anyone knew what Groove was!!

    One Drive, was an amazing solution when it was -SkyDrive ..then they renamed it .. but was still amazing under windows 8.1 ....then they killed place holders.. then killed unlimited storage.. they took for ever to do anything to the service at all .then they never market the services at all.. and you still can not add more storage to it .. no good family plan solution. ..nothing .. it is ignored.. and dying..

    Windows Phone was great, fast nimble and did not need a half super computer to run without lagging, like Android seems to need. ....Windows Phone market share was increasing .. it was actually starting to take off in Europe... then they f it up with making it Windows 10 mobile that had horrible memory management compared to Windows Phone 7 and 8. In WP the memory was constantly cleared up..inactive apps got closed automatically if needed so the phone was always fast... with Win10m they removed that completely can actually still to this day start so many apps the phone basically crash.. numerous reports and it never got addressed ... and with Satya they pulled out of Europe more or less, and went all in on the US market where they had no chance at all... so they lost all the market share they had gained.. and it was doomed ..then they ignored it to death for years under Satya..

    The windows Store is another example ..they launch a decent store under Windows Phone.. it wasn't great but it wasn't horrible.,..then they made it worse and worse, changed development processes over and over that scared off the few developers that cared.. and then remade the store into a total mess..that they then ignored it and are still ignoring it tofday and that will probably kill it eventually ..

    With Steve Ballmer at least they had some balls to go all in and take a chance..and they tried and put some resources behind things to give it a fair shot.. under Satya it is make a press release..then see how it goes.. and do not talk about it for a year .. and then give some meek answer or statement that means nothing and keep ignoring things again..

    or hype something up as amazing, that really is nothing.. and then finally reveal that is really nothing special... then forget they ever talked about it ..

  13. Bsobotta

    I lost interest in Microsoft consumer products when I switched between Android devices. Coming off of Windows Phone I was all in on the Microsoft services, but as time went on it faded. I am now in Samsung's boat and some of Google's.

    Without a device to use, Microsoft couldn't hold my attention (and trust). But I wish them all the best. I do over Paul's Android overage though.

  14. graple

    Brad, with Cortana's new leader at the helm, I wonder if we could see a Cortana device with a screen coming soon, kind of like the Lenovo's Smart Display? With Cortana being able to read emails from the Invoke now, it seems like that would be the next direction for MSFT to go, right??? lol Hint, hint.

    Example: I would love to be able to see a photo included in an email. Or if I received an e-card, I would love to be able to see it. It would be great if apps like the American Greetings app or the FTD app, Twitter or YouTube would work with the Smart Display.

  15. SenorGravy

    Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that Microsoft's Cortana Smart Speaker program will end up being abandoned?