Alexa has been available on Windows 10 computers for a while now, along with Microsoft's own Cortana voice assistant. But a September update could make it much more useful.
As part of Microsoft's September update for its Windows 10 operating system, the company will allow voice assistants to work from a computer's lock screen, when it isn't otherwise being used.
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This likely means that, once Amazon has updated Alexa to work in accordance with the change, the voice assistant could be interacted with while your computer is locked. This effectively turns your Windows 10 laptop or PC into an Alexa smart speaker, always listening for the 'Alexa' wake work, and ready to help with your questions and commands.
The update was announced on the Windows blog on July 15, with Microsoft stating it will include "a change to enable third-party digital assistants to voice activate above the Lock screen."
Although Alexa is not mentioned by name, it is obvious what Microsoft is referring to here - especially as it chose to say "third-party digital assistants", which discounts its own Cortana voice butler.
Windows 10 computers can be used as Alexa smart speakers when lockedMicrosoft
Of course, there will likely be some limitations here. Because the computer is locked, Alexa is unlikely to offer up personal information to anyone who asks; instead, Alexa on a locked PC will likely ask for a user to log in before revealing details from their calendar or making a voice call, for example.
This update could be useful for Windows users who have a PC or laptop in a room with no smart speaker, as they can yell at their sleeping computer to speak to Alexa, instead of getting out their smartphone or moving to a room where there is a smart speaker.
This update comes after Amazon, earlier this year, made Alexa on Windows 10 hands-free. Instead of clicking on an icon, the assistant can be summoned by saying the 'Alexa' wake word aloud, which is then picked up by the computer's microphone.
Alexa is also available on the Microsoft-built Xbox One games console, and Amazon and Microsoft have previously announced plans to integrate Cortana with Alexa.
What's interesting here is how Microsoft seems to be backing further away from the consumer voice assistant market. Instead of continuing a losing fight with Amazon and Google, it is instead starting to position Cortana as a tool for businesses to interact with Microsoft software and services.Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Amazon Alexa enabled devices.