Microsoft and Amazon are working together to allow Cortana and Alexa to play together. That collaboration was supposed to come to fruition back in 2017, but it's still in a limited beta. In the meantime, Amazon isn't waiting to get onto Windows 10.
It's reached deals with several manufacturers to build Alexa right into your PC. So if you have a compatible PC, you can reach Amazon's smart assistant on almost every device you need.
Read this: The best Alexa-enabled devices
But what PCs will carry Alexa, and what exactly can Amazon's assistant do on your computer? Further, how will Alexa work when Cortana is also on board Windows 10 PCs. We've done the digging for you, and we've got all your answers.
Alexa on Windows 10: The PCs
Alexa will appear on PCs from the likes of Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo. Most of the Alexa-enabled PCs will be ready for purchase by the end of the year, though Acer is ready now.
From 21 May, Alexa is preinstalled on all Acer Spin 3 and Spin 5 models. If you bought either of those models before that date, you'll be able to add Alexa via a software update. The Spin 3 software update will roll out 23 May and the Spin 5 software update will roll out 26 May.
Alexa on Windows 10: What's Microsoft thinking?
Wait a minute. You might be thinking, shouldn't Microsoft be furious that Amazon is encroaching on its turf by putting Alexa on Windows 10 PCs? Will it issue some kind of update that breaks its functionality or hampers it in anyway? Gasp - could Microsoft cancel the Cortana and Alexa love fest?
Not a chance. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told investors back in January that the company doesn't see the world of digital assistants as a competition, where one voice is to rule them all. Instead, he sees voice assistants eventually working together.
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"That‚Äôs why we‚Äôre working with Alexa, and we would welcome it on our devices because we believe in a world where our own assistant should be available everywhere and so should other assistants be available on our devices," Nadella said.
For its part, Amazon agrees. At Build, Amazon Alexa senior vice president Tom Taylor said it too sees a future where assistants work together to be more helpful for customers, as each assistant tends to have a slightly different speciality. Alexa is great at shopping, Assistant is good at knowledge, Cortana has deep integration into Windows and Siri controls your iPhone.
Alexa on Windows 10: Setting it up
Just because Alexa is preinstalled on your shiny new PC doesn't mean you can start barking at it the moment the the desktop wallpaper appears. You'll need to set it up first. Luckily, this isn't too difficult.
When you boot up your PC, you can use this method:
1. Open the Start Menu.
2. Click the Alexa icon.
3. Sign in to your Amazon account.
Or, you can use this method:
1. Click on the Windows search bar.
2. Type Amazon Alexa.
3. Sign in to your Amazon account.
If you need to download a software update to add Alexa to your PC, know that you will be guided through the previous steps in installing it.
Next, you'll need to set up that wake word. You'll only be able to do this if your Windows 10 PC is enabled with hands-free access. If not, you'll need to click on the Alexa logo and then say your command or question.
1. Open the Alexa for Windows 10 menu.
2. Click Settings.
3. Check the Wake Word option.
Note: If you can't select Wake Word, your PC does not have hands-free access.
Alexa on Windows 10: What can it do?
The vast majority of Alexa's features on other devices are also available here on Windows 10. So you'll be able to get things done, like add things to your shopping list or check on your flash briefing.
Here's a small selection of things Alexa can do on Windows 10.
Alexa Windows 10 commands: Getting things done
"Alexa, what's my flash briefing."
"Alexa, when's Memorial Day?"
"Alexa, add peanut butter to my shopping list."
'Alexa, remind me to visit grandma on Monday."
Alexa Windows 10 commands: Entertainment
"Alexa, play 90's hip hop."
"Alexa, read me The Great Gatsby."
'Alexa, turn it up."
"Alexa, open the Open Road playlist."
Alexa Windows 10 commands: smart home
"Alexa, what's the temperature at home?"
"Alexa, turn off the lights."
"Alexa, lock the door."
"Alexa, turn on the coffee maker."
Alexa on Windows 10: What can't it do?
If you're outside of the US, you're out of luck for now. Alexa will only be on Windows 10 in the US, though that's likely to change at some point.
Additionally, there are some apps you can't use while on Windows 10. Alexa cannot control Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn for you from your PC. Finally, calling and messaging are also not available for Alexa on Windows 10.
So while having Alexa on Windows 10 can be convenient, it's not the all-in-one solution that Alexa can be on Echo devices.
Get more out of Alexa
- How to control Sonos with Alexa
- How to play podcasts with Alexa on your Amazon Echo
- How to control Amazon Fire TV using your Echo speaker
- How to use Alexa to control your lights and devices
- How to use your Amazon Echo with Alexa as the perfect alarm clock
- How to set up and use Alexa Routines for a smarter home
- How to view security camera footage on your Amazon Echo devices
- How to set up and use Alexa Drop In and Calling on your Amazon Echo
- Alexa and Spotify guide: How to connect and use with your Amazon Echo
- Alexa Brief Mode explained: How to turn it on and how it works