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Microsoft Starts Selling Amazon’s Echo Devices

While Alexa accepted personal requests, Cortana helped with business needs

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Microsoft launches e-commerce portal for Telangana's handloom weavers. Pixabay

Following its partnership with Amazon to integrate their two Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered assistants Alexa with Cortana, Microsoft has now started selling Amazon’s Echo devices in its retail stores.

Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo devices are available online and in Microsoft Stores in the US, The Verge reported on Saturday.

Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality.

The software maker now appears to be pushing it towards more business-focused areas like chat bots rather than its original consumer-focused launch, the report added.

Microsoft has been increasingly focusing on its Amazon partnership and Alexa integration, it added.

Microsoft and Amazon had announced to integrate their virtual assistants last year.

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Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality. Pixabay

The tech giants performed the first such integration between the two intelligent assistants at the “Build 2018” developers’ conference in May this year.

Megan Saunders, Microsoft Cortana General Manager, and Tom Taylor, Amazon Alexa Senior Vice President, showcased how Alexa and Cortana would work together in the near future.

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“For all of you developers out there building skills, Cortana and Alexa will enable access to more people across more devices. And we can’t wait to see what you build,” said Saunders.

While Alexa accepted personal requests, Cortana helped with business needs.

The integration works with the command: “Alexa, open Cortana.” (IANS)

Next Story

Cyber Criminals Attack Nearly 10,000 Microsoft Customers

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has notified nearly 10,000 customers in the past year who were targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks originating from three countries — Iran, North Korea and Russia.

According to Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Consumer Security and Trust at Microsoft, 84 per cent of these attacks targeted its enterprise customers, and about 16 per cent targeted consumer personal email accounts.

“While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process, this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives,” Burt said in a blog post late on Wednesday.

The company has seen extensive activity from the actors it calls Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia it calls Yttrium and Strontium.

“This data has been compiled by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center which works every day to track these global threats,” said Burt.

Since the launch of Microsoft “AccountGuard” last August, the company has uncovered attacks specifically targeting organisations that are fundamental to democracy.

“We have steadily expanded AccountGuard, our threat notification service for political campaigns, parties, and democracy-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to include 26 countries across four continents.”

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft has made 781 notifications of nation-state attacks targeting organisations participating in AccountGuard.

This data shows that democracy-focused organisations in the US should be particularly concerned as 95 per cent of these attacks have targeted US-based organisations. Many of the democracy-focused attacks target NGOs and think tanks.

“As we head into the 2020 elections, we anticipate that we will see attacks targeting US election systems, political campaigns or NGOs that work closely with campaigns,” warned Microsoft.

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The company demonstrated the first voting system running Microsoft ElectionGuard technology at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, on Wednesday.

“ElectionGuard can enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting. It is also possible to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities and more affordable for local governments while increasing security,” said Burt.

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year. (IANS)