The Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana works just fine outside the U.S.

The Harman Kardon Invoke is currently a product that is sold exclusively in the United States, which for Microsoft fans and users outside the States sucks. Luckily, the age of online shopping exists, and it's possible to find online retailers who are willing to ship the Invoke internationally. Me being the crazy Microsoft user that I am, I decided to purchase an Invoke from Amazon US (opens in new tab) and had it shipped over to the United Kingdom.

I've had a several people ask me if getting the Invoke shipped internationally is worth it, especially since it appears the Invoke isn't supported outside the United States. Well, the reason I got it shipped was so I could check if the product works when connected in a non-US country. And I can confirm that it does work, but not without a little tweaking on your PC first. The first issue is that the area where you connect the Invoke to your device missing on versions of Windows 10 that isn't English US based.

Luckily, you can manually add the app required for this by downloading it from the Microsoft Store. This will allow you to correctly setup the Invoke on non-US Windows 10 installations, but then there's another issue. While the Invoke technically works when using Cortana in the UK, the device can't do much as all the services and skills that the Invoke is good at are US only. There is a way around this too, however.

Microsoft knows Cortana sucks outside the US, which isn't great for fans and users who want to make the most out of Cortana. So, Microsoft built in a feature that allows users to manually change the region that Cortana is set without actually having to change the region of the entire OS. This means I can be running Windows 10 English UK, with Cortana set to the United States. This does mean Cortana will orientate to displaying US-centric news and other oddities, but it does enable the required skills and functions that make the Invoke useful.

US is still required, but that's okay

Without switching Cortana to the US region, doing things like playing music or controlling home automation is impossible. When set to English UK, for example, Cortana can only do things like check the weather and answer simple questions, which is not great for a smart speaker. When the assistant is set to Cortana US, however, it works perfectly.

That means that even in the UK, I can use the Invoke just like someone in the US can. I can use voice commands to play my Spotify library, connect up my Hue lights and control them with voice, and even ask Cortana about the status of tracked packages. So far, it's worked with no issues. I know some people had issues with alarms and reminders going off an hour late or early, but I haven't hit any such issue on my device.

I've only been using the Invoke for about a week, and so far I've loved every minute of it. I was originally using an Amazon Echo Dot, but I have switched that out for the Invoke. The Invoke has some incredible speakers built into it, which makes it great for music listening. I'm yet to suffer from any incorrectly heard voice commands, meaning even with my British accent the US Cortana can understand me just fine.

Now, I'm not sure how this works in non-English speaking countries. I would assume anywhere where Cortana works; the Invoke can be used. I don't know if you can use a non-English speaking language with Cortana set to the US, however. But if you're living in another English speaking country that isn't the United States, I can confirm that the Invoke does work well. Just make sure you switch Cortana to the US first.

Of course, this isn't an excuse. Frankly, it's a joke that Cortana is so bad in countries outside the United States, but there's not much we can do about that. Microsoft itself knows Cortana sucks outside the US, which is why it built in the option to allow us to change Cortana to US in the first place. Hopefully Microsoft puts more resources behind improving Cortana around the world throughout this year.

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Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Thanks for this Zac but the initial decision to not give it a worldwide release pushed me to Google Home instead.
  • I love that you've been downvoted for buying a product that is both sold and fully supported in your region.
  • Re: Richard Devine:
    Down and up votes are opinions.
    I wish more people would vote.
    Just my opinion.
  • Exactly, not even a comment explaining why either.
  • Otherwise having up and down votes would be totally useless.
  • Issue for me is Cortana, logically, is set to the region you set for it though, which is the US. So if I ask Cortana what time it is, she will tell me US time, not my time. So gotta ask what time it is in Morocco. Even worse is if I tell her to wake me up or remind me at a certain hour, because that would be US hour, and there is no workaround for that like the example, other than saying wake me up in X hours, or remind me in x hours, which is less than ideal. Also, same thing with the weather. I can't ask what's the weather gonna be like. I gotta ask what's the weather gonna be like tomorrow in Morocco for example, and make that précise each time. Anyway, not the biggest issues, and I mainly bought the Invoke to use as a Speaker and not too much for the rest. It is super annoying though.
  • Is this really how it would work? You can have region set to US and still have local time, no?
  • Is this really how it would work? You can have region set to US and still have local time, no?
  • Is this really how it would work? You can have region set to US and still have local time, no?
  • Is this really how it would work? You can have region set to US and still have local time, no?
  • Honestly, Cortana messes that up often, I have it in Spanish and sometimes it gives me the time for Madrid, things like that. But not sure how the HK works, because in a phone at least it has access to a gps. The speaker only knows where it is from the setup, AFAIK.
  • Probably would be better to at least give it a try before spreading wrong information.
    Cortana language only affects the language she uses to communicate, speech recognition and speech synthesis.
    Everything else is based on your actual location, your current timezone and other locale informations. Using Cortana in en-US in Geneva Switzerland, I can ask about the time, weather, nearby restaurant, etc... and she gives me localized results.
  • I'm pretty certain you are able to set the physical location of the Invoke suring setup or something like that as it works out my locaiton just fine in the UK
  • Annoying more like a deal breaker
  • Um, wrong. You can set Cortana to US and it will still behave locally. Just asked her the time, and she told me correctly here in the UK.
  • The point is that you shouldn't have to change the language to US to get ALL the features of Cortana in the first place. If Cortana is available in a particular language, then all the features should be available not just a small subset of them.
  • I'm from Jamaica and both my cortana speakers work flawlessly. I vacationed in the US and came back to work last week but demoed one of my Cortana speakers yesterday. The response from my coworkers and boss were nothing but a positive one. In one of my demonstrations I issued the command to turn on my dining light at home ( I earlier explained she would say not available), I happened to glance on my SB2 which was connected remotely to my home cameras and lo and behold I saw the light turn on etc. I'm definitely going to purchase one more Cortana speaker in the future.
  • "US is still required, but that's OK" No it isn't; it's ridiculous, and it's the very reason why Cortana is going the way of the dodo. Same as Bing and the Band and year-long delays on hardware... MS needs to understand that the world is global, not just the USA!
  • I've been using the Invoke in the UK for a few months now and had no issues with it at all, I'm able to connect to any of the 3rd party skills with no issues at all, and don't have any issues with the time (It recognises my location though and it looks as though time related tasks are associated).  It is annoying that it needs to be set to the US, but works just fine. I have one slight gripe, and that is when asking about weather, all temperatures are given in Fahrenheit, not Celsius unless i sepcifically ask, and I have found no way to change the default. My other gripe is about the WindowsCentral app on WIndows 10 Mobile - I'm unable to post anything as I can't press the send button - so annoying!!!
  • Re WC mobile app: Try logging-out and log back in. This fixed that problem for me.
  • It would be valuable that someone from a non-English speaking country tried to make the Invoke work. My guess is it doesn't work at all because it doesn't have any other languages in the device.
  • Does it require a PC to be on for some of the functionality to work?
  • No
  • This is, of course, a valuable help to people who really want to try the only Cortana speaker. The bigger question is why these barriers exist. The speaker is only for sale in the USA when competing products are on every high street. You can buy an Amazon or Google device from Argos or Asda! Microsoft is truly an exclusive supplier. You only get full functionality from their products if your computer speaks US English and enjoys the benefit of US regional settings. The resident of Boston Lincolnshire can't use the same Cortana as the resident of Boston Mass. Yet Cortana was introduced back in 2014. Surely after 4 years, Cortana would be globally available and devices using Cortana would be everywhere. I can understand that Cortana in Somalia or Syria might be missing but western Europe seems neglectful. Germany had, at one point, double-digit sales of Windowsphone bumping up on sales of iPhones yet Cortana never functioned properly there either in a country of 90 million people.  Not only should the Harman Kardon Invoke well outside the USA it should also be for sale outside the USA. It should work fully featured in many markets. The message from Microsoft over mobile, AI, Cortana and much of the product range is that it's America first and also, most of the time, only America. The technology equivalent of the Trump mantra.  Being perceived as global is a substantial selling point. Apple and Google will launch products and go out of their way to list international availability, often from day one.  On the upside. The US only policy of Microsoft means that often the product is cancelled long before consumers in the rest of the world part with their money.     
  • Does anyone from Microsoft's food chain even read what we say about their products? You'd think we'd be a voice of invaluable customer viewpoints, but whose actually listening? If some from Microsoft is listening, do you do anything with all the posts we make?
  • I was wondering the same thing.  If any decision makers at MS frequented this site and read the comments surely they would've made some changes by now.  Unless they're just so arrogant and stupid that they think their strategy is working.
  • I tried to get it with the $99 sale and sent to Australia, but alas...nobody would do it. I have a PO Box in the States but they wouldn't send it to that :( I really wanted it for the music, and I know I could have gotten it to work. I have the Google mini and it's pretty cool, but Cortana is much better. :)
  • I am looking forward to the day my wife can speak to Cortana in Spanish, while I continue to speak to her in English. I shouldn't have to change the language mode, it should simply understand which language is being spoken, no matter which language it is. My household is bi-lingual, and I'd imagine many other homes are the same way. In Europe this feature has to be a must have due to numerous languages being spoken.
  • I have the Invoke working in Canada, but its glitchy. I can ask Cortana the same question at the same time on my PC and Invoke and get different answers; yet they are both linked to the same account and network. Cortana on my PC will accept instructions for Smartthings, however the Invoke says I need to connect the device. It seems the Invoke is only partially linked to my Cortana accont. Has any encountered this and figured out a solution? I'm sure Cortana must be Canadian........ she seems to say "Sorry" a lot!
  • That's strange. I can control SmartThings fine from Invoke/PC/Mobile. Assuming you used the same Microsoft account on both?
  • What I really want to know is when Pandora is going to be supported. My wife bought hers on my recommendation on the expectation that Pandora would be supported by EOY 2017 (yes, I read that somewhere). Still no Pandora (well, I haven't checked for a firmware update in a couple of weeks). And Alexa support? - What about that also promised update? ...but yeah, the Invoke sounds great. My wife though, has gone back to her BT dual Oontz Angle 3 ultra (for stereo), fed from Pandora on her tablet.
  • The smart speaker thing feels like another MS band product....kind of experimental, not really that interested in building out support for it, not too keen on giving it a global sales platform. It wouldn't be very surprising if we see the forums full of harman Kardon adopters in 2 years time, fully pissed off that MS has decided to drop support and move onto something else  
  • I am getting ready to do a few business trips to Algeria, Jordan, Philippines, and Malaysia. I plan on bringing my Invoke with me to set up in my hotel rooms. I will be testing it out with alarms, music, reminders, Skype, and calendar events. If this comment section is still active, I plan to report my findings here. I am also thinking of bringing my echo dot also to see how it compares.