Microsoft downplays need for smart speaker hardware to keep Cortana alive


17, 2019

The Harmon Kardon Invoke Cortana speaker is more or less dead and buried, but according to Microsoft Cortana does not need dedicated hardware in any case, at least not from Microsoft.

“On the smart speaker side of things, we’ve got a bunch of partners who are building Cortana-powered things right now and we’re super excited about all of those, but it’s not like we’re going to have a single Microsoft-branded Cortana smart speaker that’s going to be the thing that carries Cortana to customers,” said Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott.

He told that Cortana was available on hundreds of millions of PCs and tens of millions of Xbox consoles, and was increasingly finding its way into Microsoft’s apps and experiences, including on other platforms.

“Where it’s positioned now sets it up really nicely in terms of incentives and technology sharing inside of the company to get it into places where you have lots and lots of user activity already, like I mean Cortana ought to be an interesting part of the Office product suite beyond the initial things that we’ve done so far, for instance,” he said. “There’s a little bit of Cortana tech in the mobile email app but you should see Cortana tech everywhere over time. I’m excited about that.”

Scott felt Cortana should be available in a number of endpoints, and deliver unique value there.

“The important thing is where are you doing something that’s uniquely valuable for users? Like where do they need Cortana? I think that’s a much more interesting question than the form factor one, the form factor sort of follows what can we do for them, not like form factor for sake of form factor,” he said.

A better and unanswered question, of course, is not where but why you need Cortana, with the lead digital personal assistant platforms already dominant either as stand-alone devices or as part of mobile platforms, and even invading the desktop with Alexa integration.

Have our readers found any reason to use Cortana over Alexa and Google Assistant? Let us know below.

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