Microsoft to take on Amazon's Alexa and Google Home
The tech giant plans to unveil a range of Cortana-powered devices by the end of this year.
Ian SherrContributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
You soon might thanks to
, which is planning to power a range of devices by the end of the year using its Cortana digital assistant software. Soon, you'll be able to buy internet-connected speakers powered with Microsoft software.
The goal: Take on every tech giant fulfill a decades-long dream of making Microsoft's software and devices the center of people's lives.
"The opportunity for us as developers to have impact on all parts of society and all parts of economy has never been greater," said
, Microsoft's CEO, at the company's Build developer conference in Seattle.
The effort is part of Microsoft's broader approach to the
since Nadella was named CEO three years ago. Within months of his taking the top spot, Microsoft released a version of its Office productivity software for Apple's iPads and iPhones. Since then, Microsoft has promised that its software, ranging from its Cortana voice assistant to its Visual Studio programming tools, will be broadly available on Macs and other competing devices.
Industry analysts say the move helps Microsoft focus on what it does well -- such as building technology to help business customers -- rather than chase industries it can't compete as well in, such as
. It's also helped the company attract people to its products: Half a billion devices are running its Windows 10 software, 100 million people are using its Office 365 productivity tools at least once a month, and more than 145 million people are using Cortana.
That's a marked contrast from the competition, which has pushed their voice assistants through consumer products. Amazon has a lock in the home with Alexa, thanks to its family of Echo speakers, and Google is pursuing the same strategy with
and phones running on its Android software. Siri, of course, has been a mainstay feature of the
, but Apple may introduce a speaker of its own.