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Alexa is invading Windows 10 computers

Published Jul 16th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
Windows 10 19H2 Update
Image: Microsoft

It’s not a secret that you can run two virtual assistants on Windows 10 computers, including Microsoft’s own Cortana as well as Amazon’s Alexa. But the latter will soon be ready to listen to your commands directly from the lock screen of Windows 10 machine in what will easily be a huge win for Amazon.

Microsoft just released a new Windows 10 build for Windows Insiders in the Slow ring — that’s version 19H2 Build 18362.10005 that’s available right now, according to Microsoft.

The update includes fixes for the May 2019 update, as well as a few new features:

  • Windows containers require matched host and container version. This restricts customers and limits Windows containers from supporting mixed-version container pod scenarios This update includes 5 fixes to address this and allow the host to run down-level containers on up-level for process (Argon) isolation.
  • A fix to allow OEMs to reduce the inking latency based on the hardware capabilities of their devices rather than being stuck with latency selected on typical hardware configuration by the OS.
  • Key-rolling or Key-rotation feature enables secure rolling of Recovery passwords on MDM managed AAD devices upon on demand request from in-tune/MDM tools or upon every time recovery password is used to unlock the BitLocker protected drive. This feature will help prevent accidental recovery password disclosure as part of manual BitLocker drive unlock by users.
  • A change to enable third-party digital assistants to voice activate above the Lock screen.

The last one, the one that mentions support for third-party digital assistants to voice activate above the Lock screen, is the one that refers to Alexa. Microsoft doesn’t mention the assistant by name, but this is a not to Alexa, considering the Microsoft-Amazon partnership to have Alexa and Cortana work together on Windows 10 machines.

If you’re an avid Alexa user, this must be good news to you. Microsoft will let you turn any Windows 10 laptop or desktop into an Alexa smart speaker that can accept the same voice commands at all times, even when the screen is turned off. You’ll be able to control your home from the computer, and access Alexa in places where you might not have an Echo speaker handy.

Things aren’t as simple, however. The feature will roll out to Windows 10 users who aren’t on the beta release only later this year, and it’ll need support from Amazon. Also, your computer better have some great microphones to actually work as reliably as a smart speaker.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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