Harman Kardon Invoke update will kill Microsoft Cortana support
Microsoft famously lost out on the mobile market when consumers largely rejected its Windows phones and embraced Apple and Google's offerings instead. This is a shame, as smartphones running Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile were actually quite good -- they just lacked apps and third-party developer support. And so, Microsoft abandoned its mobile plans, ultimately embracing the Linux-based Android for the Surface Duo.
Following smartphones, the next big thing was voice assistants, and sadly, Microsoft lost there too, getting beat out by Amazon and Google. This is also unfortunate, as Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, was pretty great. Once again, however, consumers rejected it. And so, like Windows 10 Mobile, Cortana has been largely canceled, as the company slowly phases it/her out.
You might be asking, "Who cares if Cortana dies entirely?" Well, some folks do -- especially the ones that spent money on the Harman Kardon Invoke. Don't know what that is? It is a dedicated speaker that uses Cortana as an assistant -- much like Amazon's Echo devices use Alexa. For Invoke owners, their device has pretty much become straight up garbage. Yet another Microsoft-focused product to end in disappointment.
Well, before you toss your Invoke into the trash heap, please know that in 2020 Microsoft announced it will be issuing an update to remove the Cortana aspect of the product, essentially turning it into a "dumb" Bluetooth speaker. And now, Harman Kardon reveals that update will begin rolling out tomorrow, March 10.
Even better, Microsoft will pay Invoke owners $50 as an apology for Cortana's demise, but there are some caveats. To be eligible for the payout, you must be in the USA and have actively used Cortana on the speaker after July 31, 2019 and before the $50 promo was announced.
In other words, if you bought the speaker at launch in 2017 and stopped using it before July 31, 2019, for example -- you aren't eligible. That is a bit silly; Microsoft should really honor this deal for all owners who set up the device before the July 31, 2020 announcement. Oh well. You can check your eligibility and sign up for the $50 here.
Anyway, if you want to install the Invoke update that will transform it into a Bluetooth-only speaker, you will need to make sure it is set up, powered on, and connected to Wi-Fi between March 10, 2021 and June 30, 2021. At some point, between 2am and 5am local time on one of those days, the update will be installed.
You can verify the success of the update installation by calling upon Cortana and having nothing happen when you do. If you don't install the update prior to June 30, you can apparently never get it.
Does it suck to lose functionality you paid for? Yes, but Invoke offers really solid sound quality, so even if it is Bluetooth-only, it should offer a nice sonic experience for many years. Look, just throw it into a spare room, garage, or basement, and let it live as a Bluetooth speaker. It's better than a landfill, right?