MICROSOFT IS PLANNING to allow third-party voice assistants to take precedence over Cortana is the next iteration of Windows 10.
Starting with the otherwise minor 19H2 update slated for September, you'll be able to set up Alexa to listen from your lock screen, meaning that even if the PC is locked, you'll have access to the Alexa ‘wake word' for hands-free control.
It's always nice to see Microsoft embracing rival platforms, but it's another sign that Cortana, the official Microsoft voice assistant, is really not taking the public by storm.
In the recent Spring 2019 update, Microsoft moved Cortana into a separate app from the desktop search, fuelling speculation that it has been demoted in the company's priorities.
That said, there has always been a close relationship between Cortana and Amazon. Last year, the company linked the two assistants allowing Cortana to call on Alexa and vice versa. At the time, Microsoft pointed out that Cortana has a more business focus than Alexa and so the two services complement each other.
In reality, saying "Alexa - ask Cortana…." is a bit of a faff.
Microsoft has said that the service will work for "third-party assistants" implying that Google, Samsung (haha) and Apple may want to join the party too.
Cortana's future definitely seems to be in the B2B space, with more custom skills for corporate environments, but with other voice assistants having the advantage of familiarity to users, it could be that Alexa becomes the most popular choice in the workplace too.
Google has limited support for its Assistant on the desktop, though it is available on Chrome OS and is likely to come to the Chrome browser at some point.
Watch out for the change is 19H2 - which will be the first bi-annual update to the operating system to be a patch rollup, similar to the old Service Packs, instead of a full new build. μ
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