Microsoft and Amazon alliances to integrate Alexa and Cortana digital assistance, puts Google under pressureMicrosoft and Amazon announced a surprise partnership on Thursday in which they were jointly releasing for free a new software tool for developers called Gluon. Gluon makes it easier for developers to build AI systems, but if we look at this partnership of Amazon and Microsoft its interesting that it challenges Google in its big area of dominance for Google Now. Amazon and Microsoft are partnering to improved integration of their Alexa and Cortana digital assistants. After this, Alexa users will be able to access Cortana, and vice versa on a range of devices, although the first step in this integration is rather clunky. Amazon Echo users have to say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” while Microsoft users have to say, “Cortana, open Alexa.” It appears that both companies have simply created skills on each others platforms to enable the basic integration. Releasing new programming tools like this as open source is a way to get people to start using them, and it helps make sure these tools will do what people want them to do, because the users are the ones contributing features. But there seems to be another interesting reason behind this historical partnership, when it comes to AI and machine learning, Google seems to have an edge. Google has bet its cloud computing strategy on AI. The internet company believes AI will become so important to the cloud, and that Google will be so good at it, that Google will leapfrog Amazon and Microsoft and win the next cloud war. Google is already ahead when it comes to build AI systems because of the open source tool Tensorflow. Tensorflow is highly popular with developers. Programmer does not need to use Google’s cloud to use Tensorflow – it’s so popular Amazon’s cloud also supports it – developers would have sort of a natural leaning toward Google’s cloud if Tensorflow was important to them. The New York Times reports that Microsoft and Amazon partnered in May last year, after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raised the idea with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft’s CEO summit. Amazon’s push to partner more closely with Microsoft makes sense, as the pair are both trying to fend off Google’s own assistant and Microsoft already helps power Alexa queries through its Bing search engine. This new partnership creates a combined pool of users of over 200 million — by far the largest combined platform. This number grows exponentially as Alexa devices and implications expand and new Windows installs continue.
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