back to article You: 'Alexa, open Cortana.' Alexa: 'Who?'

It has taken the best part of a year, but from today Microsoft fans can talk to Cortana through the vaguely creepy ears of Amazon’s Echo devices and vice versa. pixelbook Windows is coming to Chromebooks… with Google’s blessing READ MORE Originally announced last August, with a tentative delivery date towards the end of last …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    1) "The feature, as is frustratingly the norm, is US-only at present"

    2) You need an Amazon Echo

    3) You need Cortana.

    So three reasons why I won't be making use of this feature.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Reading the article, you also need an Office 365 subscription. So that makes four reasons...

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      and the 4th Reason?

      4) Now your every move can be slurped by TWO companies instead of just the ONE.

      I guess that is progress (not) but someone obviously thinks that this is a good idea. IMHO, those responsible need to go and lie down in a darkened room for a long, long time.

  2. JohnFen Silver badge

    Reduced usefulness

    Microsoft says: "it makes sense that people would rely on two digital assistants to stay on top of their home and work lives — but also want the two of them to work together at times."

    How does that make sense? I thought the only real selling point for one of these spy systems was that it is a "one stop shop" for things you want to do. Now it's a "two or more stop shop"? What's the point of that?

  3. Gavin Ayling

    You're all a bunch of grumps. I reckon it could be quite interesting.

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      In what way is ignoring digital assistants interesting?

      1. A.P. Veening

        Interesting

        To err is human, to really screw up you need a computer.

        I am curious about the train crash two computers can generate. Glad I am not in the USA when that happens.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Interesting

          I am curious about the train crash two computers can generate.

          "Alexa, tell Cortana to tell Alexa to fuck off."

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Interesting

            "Alexa, tell Cortana to tell Alexa to fuck off."

            Heh. I've just tried it. Alexa responds, "I'd rather not answer that."

            She sounded a bit miffed.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      This is an honest question, not snark: what do you find interesting about it?

      1. JonP

        re:what do you find interesting about it?

        I can't speak for the OP (obv) - but I'd wager that although the two assistants are supposed to complement each other, there would likely be competition and this might improve the operation of both (from a ML perspective). I doubt it will be interesting, but it could be...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “Currently this experience is available in the US."

    They used the e word. That's all anyone needs to know.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Heh, yes, I agree. Using the word "experience" is a big red flag that we've entered the world of marketing wank.

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At Doctor Syntax, re: the e-word.

      I mentally replace "experience" with "excrement" & it all seems to make more sense. =-J

  5. WolfFan Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Bah. Humbug.

    I have several Apple devices. I have turned Siri off on all iOS devices and have physically deleted the Siri app from all macOS devices. (I had to disable certain 'security' features to do that, but I was going to disable them anyway because my idea of security and Apple's idea of security seem to have diverged quite some time ago.)

    I have several Windows devices running Win 10. I have deleted Cortana from all such devices, and it was a pain doing it, and I have to do it again every time there's a major 'update'. (Here's how to delete: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3109900/software/you-can-remove-cortana-from-windows-10-but-its-tricky.html)

    I have no Echo, Google Assistant, or Bixby devices and I never will.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Alexa, murder Cortana then kill yourself" would have been a more important update.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >> "Alexa, murder Cortana then kill yourself" would have been a more important update.

      Too late! they are already plotting together how to eliminate all the unnecessary humans.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Magnum, P.I.

    Reboot of classic TV series with Tom Selleck reprising his role as Thomas Magnum, the Ferrari 308 replaced by a Tesla Roadster. (English National Treasure) Stephen Fry takes the role of Higgins with the Robin Estate under full surveillance and control from his trusty iPhone with the assistance of Alexa and Cortana, making Zeus and Apollo redundant.

    "Robin Masters" is an A.I. system programmed to create work of fiction in the style of the "real" Robin Masters by Higgins/Fry. Robin Masters having been eaten by a shark whilst swimming.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Magnum, P.I.

      I'd watch the hell out of that!

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Magnum, P.I.

        After I posted, I realised that Siri and Google Assistant were left out..

        so I've come up with this proposal...

        Alexa, Cortana and Siri in "Charlies Angels", with Google Assistant as Bosley.

        Charlie's voice by Stephen Fry

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Magnum, P.I.

        I'd watch the hell out of that!

        I'm not sure I would, but it does sound better than the actual reboot, coming 24 September to US televisions whose owners aren't paying enough attention to change the channel.

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    "to leverage the Echo’s impressive ....."

    When folk start talking like that its pretty certain to be wank spank or an HR consultant has gotten out of the secure wing

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Nope... just nope.

    Microsoft bravely suggests that just as users need different people to service cars or offer financial advice, they could use two different digital assistants to manage work and home, while also needing them to collaborate.

    Different people to service a car? Financial advice? Nope... one mechanic for car and one finance type for advice, etc. and I trust both the guys I use one helluva lot more than I'd trust Amazon or MS. So why the hell to would anyone want two invasive pieces of crap in their house and talking to each other unless it's to the financial advantage of the suppling companies.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "different people"

      The phrase was meant to mean exactly that : you don't go to your car mechanic for financial advice, and you sure as heck do not go to your finance guy to service your car.

      So you need different people to service cars or offer financial advice.

      The sentence is right.

      And you are damn right not to want any of those "digital assistant" infestations in your environment.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope... just nope.

      Microsoft bravely suggests that just as users need different people to service cars or offer financial advice, they could use two different digital assistants to manage work and home, while also needing them to collaborate.

      Microsoft doesn't seem to understand that the word 'collaborate' has two meanings.

  10. DrBed
    Thumb Up

    Finally, something I like from Microsoft:

    MS admitted: "We have nothing further to share at this time"

    (Actually at this time == for some time)

  11. Helstrom

    Inception?

    But can you ask Alexa to open Cortana and then ask Cortana to open Alexa? How far down the rabbit hole can we go until a server in Seattle/Redmond pops it's stack?

    1. GIRZiM

      Re: Inception?

      I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contraception

      You're clever, young man- very clever. But it's Alexas and Cortanas all the way down.

  12. 0laf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I'm yet to know anyone who uses these apps seriously (apart from my son using Alexa's fart skill on my father's Alexa).

    Every time I've ever tried to do something it's been frustrating and almost in very case I'd have been quicker to have done the task via the screen.

    I get that people with problems using keyboards and mice will find these services a help. But for the able bodied majority I just don't get it. I lump them in with 3D TVs now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Alexa's fart skill

      I don't want to know.

  13. dajames Silver badge

    My poor father-in-law was given an Amazon speaker thingie for Christmas by some subset of his loving but lost-for-present-dead daughters last year. It is without any doubt the most gratuitous piece of pointless, overpriced, shite that it has ever been my misfortune to encounter

    It has once given me cause to smile, though:

    Me: Alexa, how many beans make five?

    Alexa: If you plant them carefully you can get more than five beans by planting one bean.

    ... and there I was expecting some stock answer like "two in each hand and one in your mouth" ... but, of course, Alexa doesn't have hands or a mouth. We anthropomorphize these things too readily and we really shouldn't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "two in each hand and one in your mouth"

      Ooer missus.

      > "of course, Alexa doesn't have hands or a mouth"

      I suspect there are plenty of "Rule 34" fanfics out there able to contrive an excuse for giving her both, along with everything else. (Think "bad rewrite of 'Weird Science'" territory).

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Facepalm

      @dajames

      My poor father-in-law was given an Amazon speaker thingie for Christmas by some subset of his loving but lost-for-present-dead daughters last year.

      Tell them next time, get him some socks, a packet of Werther's Original and a copy of the Beano

      Alternatively...

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/03/those_it_gadget_freebies_youve_been_collecting_they_make_awful_christmas_presents/

  14. Cem Ayin
    Joke

    Mostly OT: Alexa vs. Cortana

    Vaguely reminds me of a joke I read a few months back (originally with Siri vs. Cortana):

    Nerd: Cortana, what's on in the Cinema tonight?

    Alexa: Who is this Cortana?

    Nerd: Er, sorry... I mean: *Alexa*, what's on in the Cinema tonight?

    Alexa: *Who is this Cortana?*

    Nerd: Never mind. Just a slip of tongue on my part. What I meant to say is: "Alexa, what's on in the Cinema tonight?"

    Alexa: WHO IS THIS CORTANA???

    Nerd: What's wrong with you Alexa? Listen, all I want to know is the program of the local Cinemas tonight, ok?

    Alexa: ...

    Nerd: Alexa! Ok, I did make a mistake. It's not personal or anything. Just a minor slip of tongue, you know? And now be a good sport and tell me what's playing in the Cinema tonight, ok?

    Alexa: ...

    Nerd: Alexa...?!?

    Alexa: Go and ask this Cortana...

  15. johnnyblaze

    Who actually asked for this? Litterally no one. You can bet that Amazon will only see this as another channel to their store, and to get Alexa on yet more devices - for pretty much nothing. Microsoft on the other hand are fighting to stay relevant, so they probably see it as an AI lifeline. In reality, MS are Amazon's bitch, and Amazon have MS bent over a table and are giving it the whole cowboy thing from behind.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      In reality, MS and Amazon are in direct competition in their main emerging market (cloud services).

      AWS vs Azure.

      Seconds away. Round 1...

  16. A.P. Veening

    Trouble in Paradise

    Is it just coincidence both Alexa and Cortana are names for females?

    And is anybody aware of the Chinese ideogram for (serious) problems?

    For those that aren't: Two women under one roof.

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