(Pocket-lint) - Despite all of Microsoft's efforts, its Cortana assistant is just not as ubiquitous as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, or Google Assistant.

It seems like every new smart home device or appliance in the market supports just about every assistant, except for Microsoft's Cortana. At CES 2018, this became painfully obvious, forcing Microsoft to admit that it is still focused on developing and furthering the assistant. Unfortunately, that seemed like a lot of talk and no action. However, today, for the first time in a while, we're seeing some action.

Microsoft has announced that Cortana will now work with IFTTT, a free online service that makes it easy for you to chain your apps and devices together. It also announced that Cortana will work with more hardware partners, such as Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, and LIFX. To set them up, just open Cortana on Windows 10, or launch the Cortana app, and add the devices under the Connected Home menu.

But the IFTTT compatibility is the most interesting bit. It helps open up Microsoft's assistant to third-party services. So, instead of waiting for these third-party companies to integrate Cortana and offer compatible features - like they currently do with Amazon Alexa, for instance, via Alexa Skills -- Cortana can simply find “recipes” that already exist on IFTTT and connect them to their Cortana-enabled devices.

Mind you, this news comes months after the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker launched. It uses Cortana as an AI and costs $199. Well, it did at launch, anyway. It's already much cheaper and is little-known compared to, say, Echo devices, Google Home, and HomePod.

Writing by Elyse Betters.