Microsoft’s Cortana Speaker Plans Come in to the Light

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 23 Comments

For far too long, I have been holding out that Microsoft would release a speaker that was powered by Cortana. Considering that the digital personal assistant is just about everywhere (desktop, mobile, and console), having a dedicated box for it is the next logical move.

When Microsoft and Harman Kardon showed off their teaser video of what looks to be an Amazon Echo but powered by Cortana, many were hoping that this meant the device would be released in the near future. But, here we are, four months later and we still are not able to buy the device.

Late last week, Microsoft released a new version of Windows 10 to Insiders and this was the first release from the new RS3 branch. Tucked away inside this build is a new feature for Cortana to ‘Setup A Cortana Speaker’ that gives us a better look at the upcoming experience offered by these devices.

To little surprise, you will setup the speaker inside of the Cortana app on Windows 10 which once initiated, will search for the device on your local network. As we can see in the tutorial images provided by MSPoweruser, the Harman Kardon Cortana speaker will be called Invoke.

Once the speaker is up and running, it will support all the Cortana features from the desktop like weather, your calendar, playing music, reminders and everything else you would expect from such a device. In addition, you will also be able to place Skype calls as well.

While all this information is good and gives me a small bit of hope that we will see these devices in the near future, the downside is that Redstone 3 is not expected to be released until later this year in the October/November timeframe. If this holds true, then the hardware like the Invoke may not be released until nearly a year after it was initially shown off.

Of course, Microsoft could push this Cortana update to the current release of Windows 10 but we don’t know if they plan to do that at this time. With that being said, at least the company is still moving forward with Cortana speakers and hopefully they arrive in time before Google Home and Amazon Echo take the majority of the available market share.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Microsoft’s Cortana Speaker Plans Come in to the Light”

  1. Avatar

    jbuccola

    Once again, Microsoft is the third guy in the door (Amazon and Google being first and second).


    Skills (aka apps) are growing rapidly on at least the Amazon platform, and Alexa (either integration or the assistant itself) is popping up in all kinds of devices.


    Why does this feel eerily like a Windows Phone moment?

  2. Avatar

    AndBingoWasHis

    Microsoft Home Server (check). Zune (check). Windows Phone (check).


    Never, ever, again. Maybe rather than throw away shareholder $ on this, they'd be better off integrating skills into the Echo ecosystem (Echosystem :-) ).

  3. Avatar

    zorb56

    Microsoft still doesn't understand rapid release in the slightest. For almost 3 years now we've been told that bits and pieces of Windows could be updated like apps, or even on the back end because they're cloud services. But they rarely, if ever, do this. I too have been holding out for a Cortana speaker, but I would like to get something soon. I may go with the Echo if the timeframe for this is fall.

  4. Avatar

    Jules Wombat

    Too Little, Way Too Late.  Zig Zaging Microsoft really need to shift their gears if they don't want another WP type disappointment on their hands.

  5. Avatar

    Wendell Harness

    Golly, I'm so looking forward to the MS Cheese Grater.

  6. Avatar

    Jedi Dwight

    With Harmon Kardon now owned by Samsung, will they even be on board with following through with it?


    I kind of think the Invoke has to happen even if Microsoft brings it out themselves. Microsoft has concepts for the smart home and pervasive computing plotted out. Now Amazon and Google are in the drivers seat. Whereas MS had been used to dictating the future, now they're being compelled to compete to stay in it.


    Like others here I have my cynicism. The short term corporate mentality and inclination to kill products is worrisome. As is their failure to execute on a number of things.

  7. Avatar

    Tommy

    Looking forward to the Cortana Speaker coming out in 2018, with Microsoft dropping support for it by 2020.


    I mean, I had both Kinects on my Xboxes, I had Zune, I had Windows Phone, and hell I had a Surface RT. They'll have to work really, really hard to convince people like me why we should continue to support platforms from a company that is consistently three steps behind the cutting edge.


    The damning thing is that we shouldn't be the people they have to convince - we're all posting here as Microsoft fanboys and fangirls.

  8. Avatar

    delorean

    Its too late again. The one thing Microsoft could do to get traction is release this in more markets than Amazon. The number of markets that Echo is released in is very limited. But Microsoft would need to accept the fact they have already lost the US market and focus on winning other large markets to gain meaningful device and developer support.

    • Avatar

      Jeff Jones

      In reply to delorean:

      I'm not sure the market for the device itself is far enough along to be considered lost. It's basically still in the early adopter/beta phase.

      The biggest problem Microsoft has is that of mind share I think. A lot of Microsoft's products have failed to catch on and were eventually discontinued. As others have pointed out already, Windows Home Server failed, Zune failed, Kinect failed, Surface RT failed, Microsoft Band failed, and Windows Phone essentially failed (though still present I guess). I'm not really inclined to try another new product from Microsoft until it's fully established.

      In fact because so many of their "eco system" products have failed, I would rather buy a Google Home since it uses Google Search and will probably be better integrated with my Android phones, smart watches, and Chromecast devices. I also would really like it if Google would release a Cortana replacement for Windows 10 so I don't get Bing search results opening in Edge every time I try to use it.

  9. Avatar

    pwrof3

    Cortana, find my Zune!

  10. Avatar

    scumdogmillionaire

    Not this time Microsoft. You've swindled me enough, especially over the last few years.


    My big problem with this is that I have 3 Xbox Ones, all with Kinect (because I thought that would be the buy in to use Cortana and was right) Those Xboxes can't do anything useful with Cortana so why should this?


    Besides, you need the apps and well, it's clear devs have no interest there. That latest Dominos commercial for example highlighting Alexa and ordering the dudes pizza. What will we get with Cortana? "Cortana, remind me to order a pizza!"


    It will be a paper weight in under a year most likely that stops receiving firmware updates and no external support so... I'm giving it a hard pass. Maybe it'll prove me wrong though.

  11. Avatar

    Daekar

    Microsoft is the only major tech company that I would trust enough to put this in my home. I will NEVER buy a Google Home or Amazon Echo, and Apple... well, Apple is OK for some people, but that kind of closed ecosystem just isn't for me no matter how pretty their designers make the product housings.


    Not saying I will buy one of these, necessarily - I'm still not sold on the real utility of these devices - but Microsoft is about the only one I would CONSIDER buying from.

  12. Avatar

    jbinaz

    I feel like there are two program managers at MS arguing somewhere over the right color of this, the button size of that. All the while Google and Amazon are extending their lead.

  13. Avatar

    Clarkb

    To be fair, Sonos and Amazon announced they would build a Sonos device with Alexa built in months before the Cortana/Harmon Kardon announcement and we've yet to see anything.

  14. Avatar

    tboggs13

    I sort of feel like while MS was waiting for the next big thing, they missed it again. Developers are jumping on the Amazon platform left and right and I can't believe it already has more market share than Windows Phone did at it's peak. I saw that a financial planning app already is on the Echo. That doesn't even make that much sense, but the same developer never would release a Windows Phone or Windows UWP app.


    Let's face it, MS has lost developers, developers, developers.

  15. Avatar

    rameshthanikodi

    Cortana won't matter until they expand on its poor worldwide availability.

  16. Avatar

    arknu

    As usual Microsoft is late and slow. And speaking of Cortana, did they even add one new language in the Creators Update? It is ridiculous how slowly Microsoft is adding language support to Cortana. For most of the world, Cortana doesn't even exist yet.

    • Avatar

      JudaZuk

      In reply to arknu:


      I don't think they need to add languages, but instead regions. I still to this day have to set my computer to US to use Cortana, and it works great. It knows about local trains, restaurants events, weather etc. and I prefer to speak English to Cortana anyway... but the downside is that because I have to set my location to US to use cortana in my region, I can not buy anything from Groove, Microsoft Store, movies and TV etc . because I can not add a local payment option WHY Microsoft Why???

      I understand it takes time to make translations but Cortana works in my region already..why not at least let me use it with English as the language, but with the correct region/location??


      Adding languages can come later, but add more regions at least


      They are still doing the same idiotic thing with Xbox One .. I can now finally select English as language, and set my correct location , at launch that was not even possible so I had to set location to US to get English and then I could not buy any games or anything on my Xbox.. pure idiocy . Now I can choose English, have the correct location so I can actually use the store, but I still at random places all over the UI get texts in my local language..why can I not just have English?? I selected English as language..so can I please get that ??


    • Avatar

      Mestiphal

      In reply to arknu:

      Seems like MS was only adding languages while the phone was a thing. they haven't improved languages for Cortana since then

  17. Avatar

    stephen888

    IF THE FUTURE of computing really does look like Her, and everyone will soon be talking to their devices and falling in love with the soothing voices in their ears, Microsoft is sitting pretty.

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