Microsoft Allows Third-Party Voice Assistants To Activate On Lock Screen

Sundar Pichai - Jul 17, 2019


Microsoft Allows Third-Party Voice Assistants To Activate On Lock Screen

Microsoft will allow third-party digital assistants like Amazon Alexa to have more intervention on its Windows 10, available in the next fall update.

Microsoft will allow third-party digital assistants to have more intervention on its Windows 10, available in the next fall update. The move can be seen as the expansion of previous collaboration between the American multinational technology company and its major rival Amazon. Following that, Microsoft empowers voice assistant software like Amazon’s Alexa to start off from wake words instead of push-to-talk option offered in 2018.

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Alexa can start off from wake words on Windows 10

Earlier this year, Microsoft deepened the integration of Amazon’s voice assistant on Windows 10 PCs by enabling Alexa wake word. However, the function can be initiated only when the app is running in the background or minimized. The expected September update will allow Alexa, or any other voice assistants, to activate right from the Windows 10 devices’ lock screen.

The collaboration overview

In November 2018, Microsoft and Amazon signed a contract which grants users the right to use both the companies’ digital assistants. In details, Alexa users can get access to Cortana from an Echo device, while Cortana users are able to call for Alexa through its app on Windows 10.

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Alexa users call up Cortana from an Echo device

Such integration has leveraged the advantages of both software, as it provides extended experiences for tech enthusiasts, such as smart home services for Cortana users. However, there remained some limits on the assistants’ capabilities at that time. Microsoft said they would consider adding more features and skills like alarms or streaming music on hearing feedback from the public review.

Notably, the collaboration came at the time of Microsoft’s Cortana falling far behind in the competition with its rivals, and Alexa was one of them.

Will Microsoft get rid of Cortana?

Before announcing the new update regarding Alexa, Microsoft has moved its voice assistant away from the built-in search experience. Cortana currently operates as a separate app, the same as Alexa, in the Microsoft Store.

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Cortana app for Windows PCs

This move definitely reveals no intention of eliminating Cortana. By contrast, it does confirm Microsoft’s new vision for the voice assistant. With integrated conversations and interactions concerning business demand, Cortana might be another Microsoft product targeted at enterprises, instead of individual customers.

Nonetheless, Cortana will now be part of a much more competitive market when it is considered as just one of various digital assistant apps on Windows 10.

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