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The two archrivals in the field of cloud computing are partnering so their voice-controlled assistants can talk to one another. Fred Katayama reports.
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Alexa and Cortana will be going to the dance together.

On Wednesday, Amazon and Microsoft announced a first-of-its kind collaboration between the one-time rival digital assistants that will begin in earnest later this year.

Owners of Amazon’s popular Alexa-driven Echo speakers will be able to say, “Alexa, open Cortana.” Folks with Windows 10 devices will be able to similarly ask Cortana to open Alexa.

The tech companies are trying to leverage each of the digital assistants’ respective strengths, which will let you use the convenience of voice in more ways both at home and in the workplace. 

For example, as an Alexa customer you might ask Cortana out loud to update your calendar inside Microsoft Office or to read aloud an email. Cortana users in turn can summon Alexa to shop inside Amazon, control smart home devices and otherwise tap into an Alexa “skills” set that numbers more than 20,000.

In a press release issued by Amazon, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that “ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

His counterpart at Amazon Jeff Bezos said, that “the world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”

Tech analyst Patrick…