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Windows 10 19H2 update brings better integration with Alexa, other digital assistants

Windows 10 19H2 update brings better integration with Alexa, other digital assistants
Windows 10 19H2 update brings better integration with Alexa, other digital assistants

What you need to know

  • The latest Windows 10 19H2 test build opens the OS up more for digital assistant alternatives Cortana.
  • Third-party digital assistants will now be able to wake from Windows 10's lock screen.
  • This will allow assistants like Amazon's Alexa to activate with their wake words without unlocking your PC first.

Microsoft is planning to open up Windows 10 to third-party digital assistants even more with the release of its next major update. In the latest Windows 10 19H2 build released to Slow ring Insiders today, Microsoft revealed a change that will allow third-party assistants like Alexa to activate with their wake word from the lock screen. This was previously a function only available to Cortana.

Alexa is the primary alternative to Cortana on Windows 10 PCs right now, and the app already allows you to use a wake word to make queries. The shift to allow this over the lock screen shows that Microsoft is looking to give users more choice over the digital assistant they prefer to use across more aspects of the OS. This capability will be open to third-party assistants outside of Alexa as well, making it a feature that, say, Google Assistant could take advantage of if Google ever decided to launch it as an app for Windows 10.

Microsoft has signaled its intentions to de-couple Cortana across Windows recently for a while now. The assistant was separated from the Windows 10 search bar in the April 2019 Update. In June, the company launched Cortana as a separate app on the Microsoft Store, putting it on the same footing as Alexa while also enabling Microsoft to update it more frequently — something that will come in handy when Cortana's contextual future comes to fruition.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

5 Comments
  • The more choices we have, the better
  • but will that choice be none? At the moment it is impossible to disable cortana, Ms has options to stop cortana doing certain things, so they say, but it is not disabled.
    it is on my machine, i renamed the folder cortana is stored in, so it can not run.
  • "In June, the company launched Cortana as a separate app on the Microsoft Store ..." You guys keep saying this, but that's only for Insiders. ~99.99% of users don't see Cortana in the Microsoft Store.
  • It Only available for 20H1 users.
  • If only Cortana could do what the other assistants could do, this would be moot. That's what happens when you stop innovating Microsoft.