Amazon Makes it Even Easier for PC Makers to Adopt Alexa

Posted on June 6, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Smart Home, Windows 10 with 17 Comments

Amazon Makes it Even Easier for PC Makers to Adopt Alexa

More bad news for Cortana: Amazon has made it easier than ever for all PC makers to bring Alexa-powered PCs to market.

This one will require a bit of explanation.

After bringing its Alexa digital personal assistant to 2014 with its Echo line of smart speakers, Amazon expanded the platform to include third-party speakers and other devices. In January at CES, the online retailer announced a further expansion of this platform in bringing Alexa to Windows 10 PCs. And four of the top five PC makers—Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo—announced plans to bundle Alexa with their PCs.

In bringing PCs to market, PC makers of all sizes rely on companies called Original Design Manufacturers, or ODMs. These firms build PCs and PC reference designs for PC makers, allowing them to bring PCs to market more quickly and more easily. As the market has evolved, the biggest PC makers now rely less on ODMs and more on their own internal designs. But ODMs still play a very important role, especially for smaller PC makers. Even more so for the smallest, which are often referred to as white-box PC makers.

This week, Amazon announced that it has partnered with three ODMs—Compal, Quanta, and Wistron—to develop four Alexa-based PC solutions that white box PC makers and other PC makers can modify and sell to their own customers. Available designs include an All-in-One PC with a 27-inch UHD display, and 14- and 15.6-inch convertible notebooks. Each runs Windows 10.

“We believe voice is the next major disruption in the PC category, which is an important part of our ‘Alexa Everywhere’ vision,” Amazon’s Mariel vanTatenhove explains. “All of these pre-tested, final-product designs have been built for a far-field Alexa experience, with Intel CPUs, drivers, wake word engine, and microphone arrays.”

These Alexa for PC solutions are distributed and maintained by Amazon. And the firm says they are designed to make it easier for manufacturers to integrate the Alexa voice experience into Windows 10 PCs.

You can learn more about this effort at Amazon’s Original Design Manufacturers website. But if I’m reading this correctly, the “Alexa Everywhere” strategy, which is smart, will ultimately push Cortana further to the periphery. Or what we might call “Cortana Nowhere.”

 

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Amazon Makes it Even Easier for PC Makers to Adopt Alexa”

  1. RM

    It seems like Microsoft is OK with other VA's on Windows. So, I am guessing any hardware designed for Windows 10 with a VA will work with any VA. Or at least it should. Hopefully, Microsoft is involved with these designs so that they are.

  2. Illusive_Man

    I just want to know if Alexa will be an AI in Halo 6.


    I don't care about voice experiences on any device. I never use them. Hell I barely like talking on the phone.

  3. yaddamaster

    I bought an Invoke knowing full well it might be orphaned. But it's a great speaker, integrates well with Spotify, and does the basic things I need an assistant to do: tell me the time, the weather forecast, what's on my calendar, traffic, etc. I don't need nor want home automation. I don't need to order something from Amazon by talking to the speaker.


    The only thing I wish it did better was recognize my voice vs my wife's and when I add something to my list - it would add it to my list and not the default account it's set up under.


    But obviously, given that MS can't even market the Invoke well in it's own stores (even in Bellevue - MS's backyard it's hidden off to the side) that doesn't bode well.


    MS has always been a subscriber to chaos theory - throw a bunch of crap against the wall and see if anything sticks. But for consumers that gets frustrating year after year when they appear not to even really try and throw it hard.

  4. Stooks

    Just one more thing to remove from my Windows 10 gaming PC when this stuff comes down in a update. That list, post refresh build is getting pretty long. We complained about Windows 7 refresh builds and all the updates, now it is Windows 10 and its looooooong list of Krap that needs to be removed.

  5. glenn8878

    Here's a simple solution, plug an Echo Dot into the PC USB port.  Can we do it?  I hope so.

  6. Bats

    This is just fantastic for Amazon. This will basically turn every PC into a quasi AmaZon Show. Plus, it will make buying this so much easier. Instead of spending a minute or to type and search for a particular item. It can be done in just, say....5 seconds?

    As for Cortana, ...GOSH, Microsoft is so dumb. I don't even know what to say anymore, at this point. Exactly, what can Cortana do? 

    There is one thing Microsoft is good for selling. DREAMS! That's all they've been doing. The don't hire good people. They don't hire good innovators, business men, leaders, etc... Microsoft is only doing well in the business sector because businesses are afraid of radical change and migrating to a Google or Amazon solution would be deemed to risky. It's not because people love Microsoft. As for the consumer market, forget it. Google may have a thousand chat programs and a million music services, but at least they are trying and their users know it. Same thing with Amazon. 

    LOL...Ya know, even Bank of America is getting in the game with their "Erica" virtual assistant. LOL...you watch. Microsoft, in their next event, will announce how you can access Cortana through Erica when you do your banking. Not just that, but you can have access to your Outlook calendar as well.

  7. Waethorn

    Easier to sell you crap made by slaves in China, packaged by slaves in America.

  8. melinau

    I was sort of interested until the word "disruption" loomed off the page. Try "fad" instead.

  9. RobCannon

    Why can't Alexa run on my existing PC if it has voice hardware that works with Cortana?

  10. PeteB

    Cortana already irrelevant, this just makes it more so.

    • Stooks

      In reply to PeteB:

      100% agree, completely irrelevant.


      But hey according to Paul yesterday the HomePod is a failure in part because Microsoft got a Cortona speaker to market before the HomePod!

    • El Comment

      In reply to PeteB:

      Cortana is in many ways better than Alexa, especially in the US (depth of understanding is related to language and culture support). But people don't know the many things it can do because Microsoft made a terrible job of explaining it to consumers.

      In other ways, such as the extent of 3rd party support, Alexa is much better, hence the very interesting Alexa-Cortana integration that was presented at build.


      My question is: why would Alexa succeeds on PCs where Cortana did not? To me, it is very far from proven that customers like to interact with PCs with voice, and very often, it's simply impracticable (open space, airport, …)

      I have also never heard Apple boast about how many people use Siri on Macs.

      I can dictate text instead of typing it, but like most people, I prefer the latter.

      Furthermore, I'm not even convinced "intelligent" home speakers is more than a fad. Let's see in a few years.

      • Stooks

        In reply to El Comment:

        It may very well be better, but no one cares. These digital assistants are fad right now. I know so many people that have them but have stopped using them, all of them, Google Amazon etc.


        They are all dumb and will need mountains and mountains of more data and 5-10 years of AI advancements before any of them can you natural language conversation with their users.


        They are the gift of 2017/18 to give when you run out of ideas for a person. "What should get them? I don't know. How about a Echo? Sure that will be fun for them"

  11. feedtheshark

    Cortona & Alexa are meant to "talk to each other", if this push by Amazon makes PCs easier to use with voice (something I've been waiting for since using Dragon Dictate about 20 years ago) , then I see this as a good thing for MS and ultimately for Cortana as well.

  12. BrickPrinter

    These things run on Windows 10 machines - not Apple or Chromebooks. So I could see a + for MS. I could see whole curricula built around this for education. Do not see why could not work together with Cortana like the "partnership with Alexa" that was announced. Maybe I am missing something.

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