We reported a few weeks ago that sales of the Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke were essentially zero in terms of market share, meaning Microsoft was not really competing in the smart speaker market.
When it came to Windows Phone Microsoft once said if OEMs cannot do it they would do it themselves. If the rumour is true Microsoft may be going down that road with smart speakers also.
According to Winfuture.de’s sources, Microsoft is working with ODM Quanta to create a smart speaker. The device is in early development, with only the reference boards having created already, and the only detail nailed down so far is that it will run on the Snapdragon 212 processor.
It is also not 100% clear if Microsoft will release an own-branded device, or if they are simply creating a reference design which other OEMs such as Dell and HP can sell under their brands.
The project may also still end up being shelved, but if it does arrive it would be an interesting re-entry into the consumer hardware market.