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09 January 2018, 02:09 | Denise Dawson
Above HP Pavilion Wave with Alexa for Windows Image Credit HP
After a planned Amazon - Microsoft initiative to integrate their respective Alexa and Cortana digital assistants put Alexa onto PCs by the end of 2017 failed to happen, Amazon is going ahead down an alternative route to make Alexa available on PCs by partnering with manufacturers including Acer, Asus, Lenovo and HP. According to the details then provided, Alexa and Cortana will be able to integrate with each other across their respective ecosystems. The computer maker says it will add a custom LED to the tower to indicate when Alexa is listening. Alexa will present responses to questions with visuals on Windows 10, just like Cortana.
A year ago, Amazon's Alexa everywhere strategy rolled out.
Microsoft would be better served to see Cortana as a connective tissue, as a framework for people who want to get serious work done, and for business users.
And now Cortana is now sharing time with Alexa on the PC in a development that can't be good for Microsoft. Microsoft could also stand to do more with the Cortana Skills platform, which now sports 250-300 skills, when Alexa has 250, 000 at its disposal.
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So also Amazon's Alexa assistant is supported on a bevy of Amazon Echo branded smart speakers, and speakers from Sonos, LG and ironically Harmon Kardon (not to mention support for cars, smart home devices and so on and so forth). After enabling the Acer Projector Smart Home skill on either an Echodevice or a compatible PC Alexa will respond to commands such as: "Alexa, turn on the projector", "Alexa, select HDMI as the projector source", or "Alexa, change projector display mode to bright". Amazon says there are more than 50 third-party devices with Alexa built-in before any announcements at CES this week.
Acer's Jerry Kao says: "Alexa lets users do thousands of things, and we're now bringing those capabilities natively to PC". Acer's Spin 5 and Switch 7 Black Edition notebooks will include four microphones to support far-field voice recognition for Alexa up to nine feet away.
As part of the Alexa push, Acer has promised to bring the digital helper to select Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks. Alexa's reach isn't necessarily a problem for Amazon, but the company doesn't have the hardware platform advantages that Google does, as Google's Assistant is available to millions of Android users already. Details on ASUS's Alexa integration weren't immediately available.
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