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The first and only Cortana speaker removes Microsoft’s digital assistant

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Microsoft’s Cortana assistant never really caught on

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Microsoft once envisioned a future full of Cortana-powered fridges, toasters, and thermostats, but it never worked out. Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker was the first and only Cortana-powered speaker to hit the market, but it’s now receiving an update on Wednesday to disable Microsoft’s digital assistant.

Harman Kardon will push an update to the Invoke speaker tomorrow (spotted by Thurrott) to remove Cortana, after Microsoft announced its plans last year to shut down its digital assistant across multiple devices. “Please note that the Cortana service on the Harman Kardon Invoke will end in the coming months regardless of whether you receive the update,” says Harman Kardon. Cortana is also disappearing on iOS and Android, and even Microsoft’s own Surface Headphones.

Cortana on the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Microsoft originally had bigger plans for Cortana back in 2016. The software maker outlined a vision for bringing its digital assistant to fridges, toasters, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, but Cortana never really caught on. Even the beautiful Cortana-powered GLAS thermostat is no longer powered by Microsoft’s digital assistant.

Microsoft now sees Cortana’s value in conversational AI and the company is trying to reposition Cortana as a skill that can run anywhere instead of competing with Alexa or Google Assistant. Cortana is increasingly being used to improve Microsoft’s enterprise-focused offerings, after the company separated it from Windows 10 search and silenced the digital assistant during the OS setup process.