Microsoft Cortana Malfunctioning on Smart Speakers

The Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker with Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant no longer seems to be working according to complaints by several owners. The apparent failure of Cortana on the device may be linked to Microsoft’s recent announcement that the consumer-facing side of Cortana will no longer be part of their portfolio.

Invoke Won’t Invoke Cortana

The central issue is that Cortana won’t carry out functions like timers or answering questions any longer. The issue extends to Cortana on other devices as well. An attempt to pull up the Cortana skill on several Alexa devices failed when Amazon’s voice assistant was unable to understand the term. Cortana is still listed on the Alexa skills listing, however. The thread on the Microsoft Answers forum is full of complaints about the problem. According to Daniel Rubino of Windows Central, Microsoft said that it is not abandoning Cortana on the Invoke, but that may not placate irate owners of the smart speaker.

Cortana’s Shifting Priorities

The Invoke came out two years ago and cost $200 before dropping to $100 last year. Recently, Microsoft has made it clear that its interest in the voice assistant is for its abilities in the workplace, not for consumers. For instance, the Cortana app is getting removed from the Android and iOS store on January 31 outside of the U.S. and Microsoft won’t offer support for it beyond that date. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared his vision earlier this year of Cortana as a productivity application for businesses.

The idea is for Cortana to no longer compete with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the consumer market. The Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise launched last year to encourage that kind of growth. Meanwhile, in April the Cortana bot was dropped from Skype, while in August the Glas smart thermostat stopped supporting Cortana. Microsoft Windows 10 also no longer includes the voice assistant.

Instead, Cortana’s presence in business is on the rise. Microsoft recently began integrating Cortana into the Outlook app. The voice assistant can read emails out loud and schedule notifications by making requests to the voice assistant. Micorsoft’s hardware also reflects the change in focus. The new $250 Surface Earbuds are more expensive than most competitors, but with the bonus of being compatibility with Office 365 via Cortana. The earbuds can run Office 365 through the voice assistant when connected to a PC or mobile device running Windows. That means Cortana can manage emails and users can use the voice assistant for real-time translation and commentary in presentations. We have reached out to Microsoft for comment about the Invoke and will update when we have more.


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