Back in 2017, Microsoft partnered with audio giant Harman Kardon to create the Invoke smart speaker. Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant was baked into the speaker, providing a rival to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home devices.
However, the Invoke was another example of Microsoft entering a hardware sector too late and with a lack of conviction. In other words, Microsoft has done little to make the Invoke a viable alternative to its rivals.
Certainly, the ongoing demise of Cortana has done little to improve the situation. You may remember Microsoft is shifting Cortana's focus away from a front-facing consumer tool and more towards productivity. The assistant will still be around, but she will now handle tasks behind the scenes on Windows.
Now, some Invoke users say their devices are useless as Cortana has seemingly gone AWOL. Could this mean Microsoft is reducing Cortana's power on the device. If so, this would mean the Invoke is
One user complained:
Since yesterday neither of my HK Invokes (I have several) creates reminders or adds to lists anymore. Saying “remind me to” or “add to list” gives “Sorry, I can't help with that”. Music, weather, and regular searches work as expected. Is there a backend problem? I'll be resetting one of my Invokes to see if the problem goes away, but has anyone else noticed this?
UPDATE the plot thickens: “Alexa, open Cortana” isn't working on my echo devices.
On the Microsoft Answers page, Microsoft has yet to respond. It will be interesting to see if the company is removing Cortana from devices. Until now, Invoke users have at least been able to use basic voice commands.
Sure, the device was never as “smart” as the Google Home or Amazon Echo, but users could do the basics with it. If Microsoft is removing Cortana, the days for the Invoke could be numbered.