Harman Kardon confirms Cortana cutoff dates for Invoke speaker

Invoke Speaker
Invoke Speaker (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Harman Kardon updated its support page for the Invoke speakers with details about the end of Cortana support.
  • The update to convert the Invoke into a Bluetooth speaker will not be available after June 30, 2021.
  • Cortana will stop working on the Invoke even if you don't update your device.

Last July, Microsoft announced the end of Cortana support on several platforms and devices. Among those cut is the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. Now, Harman Kardon has updated the support page for the Invoke speaker (opens in new tab) with more details about transitioning the device into a Bluetooth speaker.

While the Invoke speaker will no longer support Cortana, there is an update rolling out soon that will convert the device into a Bluetooth speaker.

The update appears to be either rolling out now or will be soon. The support page states that the release date is March 10, 2010, which we assume is a typo as the device came out in 2017. Whether that typo applies to just the year or the date as a whole is unclear. If it is just a typo of the year, the update could start rolling out this week.

What is confirmed is that the update to transition the speaker will not be available after June 30, 2021. The support document states (emphasis added):

This update will not be available after June 30, 2021. If your speaker isn't already connected to the internet, it's encouraged that you connect as soon as possible to ensure you receive the update. Please note that the Cortana service on the Harman Kardon Invoke will end in the coming months regardless of whether you receive the update.

This statement suggests that if you don't perform the update on your Invoke, that it will be significantly less useful, if not useless, after the cutoff date. A Q&A on the support page states, "The Wi-Fi will disable automatically on July 31st, 2021, so please keep your device connected until the Wi-Fi is automatically disabled."

If you have a Harman Kardon Invoke, you could be eligible for a $50 Microsoft gift card. Microsoft has a page on the offer, including eligibility details. You cannot just go grab an Invoke speaker now and try to earn the gift card. You have to have made a voice request on the device before the announcement of the end of Cortana support.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • The Invoke and Cortana have been good to us. I have 2 and got my $50 gift cards long ago. Good on Microsoft and Harmon Kardon for doing what they can to keep the speaker usable. The audio sounds great, and we plan to keep using it over Bluetooth.
  • You seem to be taking this better than I am. I also have two and got my 50 for both, but I would gladly give that up to keep using Cortana, in her peak form as I did before.
    As in with many things from MS. So much potential. So much waste.
    And had MS and Harmon wanted to be real upstanding about this, they could have at least turned these in to Alexa or Google assisted speakers.
  • I agree. I fail to see why a firmware update couldn't give users one of the other supported assistants.
  • I linked mine to Echo Input. It's kludgy, but effectively made my Invoke an Alexa device.
  • How did you link your Invoke to Echo Input?
  • They cannot. The wake word cannot be reprogrammed. It is annoying.
  • I'm trying to figure out how to program it to work with Mycroft. And I would like to add the good features Cortana had to Mycroft.
  • Considering Harmon Kardon is owned by Samsung, we likely would have gotten Bixby.
  • I wonder if anyone on XDAForums has looked into reprograming one to become a google AI powered speaker. HK already has other google smart speakers.
  • But how can you confirm that you have the update?
  • I was wondering the same thing. Maybe just try invoking Cortana to see if she activates.
  • Harmon Kardon says the speaker won't respond to "Hey Cortana" after the update.
  • Blue light will not work when you touch the top and also like Diego says too..
  • If you have one set up right now, tap the top. It'll tell you this update is coming this week. It's been telling you it is coming for 6 months. I expect it won't tell you a thing once it happens.
  • So frustrating. I love my Invoke speaker. With all the money MSFT is making, they couldn't keep Cortana going? Can't stand how little they regard their loyal consumer base.
  • I understand your frustration. Are you getting the "My service on invoke is coming to an end..." message yet. I can't use her at all now.
  • That is what I am getting now. It will not even answer a question about what time it is. So sad.. I have four of them and got $50 for each one. Everyone in my family used it but now we are all in on Alexa.
  • Mine is still working 100% fine (minus Xbox control). Tapping the top will play the message about it shutting down, but Hey Cortana and holding the top both work, and all commands still seem to work. Radio still works too.
  • Yeah, been getting that message for the last couple days.
  • I've never understood being "fans" of a big corporation. MS and other companies only care about their "fans" to the extent that they benefit from them financially. Cortana and the Invoke were losing money, so they discontinued/repositioned them. "Fans" were never part of the equation and never will be. It may sound harsh but it's true.
  • @bj2386, profit and supporting your users are not incompatible. When a company demonstrates a track record of long term support and commitment to new products, customers trust them more and are therefore more likely to try new offerings, lowering the cost of marketing and boosting initial sales. Conversely, when a company frequently dumps products, that communicates that any new release may soon be abandoned, which increases the cost of introducing anything new.
  • "when a company frequently dumps products, that communicates that any new release may soon be abandoned"
    SPOT watch, ZUNE (device and service), BAND, Plays-for-Sure MP3 devices, Media Center, Portable Media Center, Windows Mobile/Phone/10 Mobile. What part of that suggests MS is in to long term commitment in Consumer Products? I had everyone of those, and was annoyed, but not devastated, by them being abandoned. Little miffed by every one having been replaced by some other company's version. Not always better versions, but better marketed versions.
    BTW, Cortana is not dead or dying, she just got a job over in the enterprise side of things, where the pay is better.
  • Don't forget Groove.
  • Service-based devices. What a waste of material.
  • Why I avoid all devices and software based off subscriptions and the cloud.
  • It was a pretty good run, my kids are also sad about it. Otherwise my interest in smart speakers pretty much ends here! The fact that a speaker may become unusable after a certain point in time is more disposable than I'd like it to be
  • Yea, I switched to an Echo Show hoping that it would integrate with my home security devices. It does but it's really bad. I took due diligence to ensure the devices I picked were supported but the devil is in the details. It basically doesn't do what I want for anything. Arlo support is awful. I basically only use it for setting kitchen timers and playing music.
  • My daughters too will miss her. I set one up for my daughter in her dorm room at college. She used it to control lights, play music and set timers. The other college kids used her too. It is so sad, such potential. But now we have moved onto to Alexa devices and now we see what Cortana should have been.
  • I understand why Microsoft is doing this, but it's incredible to see how many devices/services they canceled that would have eventually offered significant advantages. Take the Kinect for example - had it been refined but not discarded it would have been an amazing tool for video chat/conferencing from home. There's a case to be made that devices like the Harman Kardon speaker could have been more tightly integrated into Teams/Office365 even with Cortana being less of a front facing assistant - even as a simple Teams device that can also provide non-Teams functionality.
  • Yep. Concur with everything you just said. Only thing to caution is that Google has killed off way more products than MS but for some reason they get a free pass. Not sure why that is.
  • Who says they get a "free pass"? What does that even mean?
  • Indeed. The IoT future that's been sped up by COVID and remote work seems to be consistently highlighting missteps at Microsoft. An Invoke at your conference table would be pretty handy. Cortana helping you start your Teams meeting sounds enticing. Had Microsoft made more effort to keep with mobile, Cortana would have lived a better life. That might have meant a better transition to Xbox and Kinect. If Kinect weren't so mismanaged, it could have worked its way into offices for webcams, like MS showed off in one of their Azure-centric workplace camera demos a couple of years back. There are all of these things coming forward now that Microsoft seems to struggle with because they didn't make the effort to live in people's pockets under Nadella. Now, they're trying to scrape together something with Duo, but presently seems half-baked. I wonder how they'll find the footing needed to be relevant to consumers. The business world seems more consumer-centric with people working from home, so it seems imperative that Microsoft can stay in the minds of consumers and make moves to work with people from their homes.
  • I actually use my Kinect for Skype calls, though sometimes there are connection issues.
  • Can anyone explain why they can't turn the Invoke into a microphone / speaker (speakerphone)? It obviously has awesome microphones built into it. Why is it ONLY a speaker?
  • Doubt Harmon Kardon wants to invest in developing new firmware to add(?) functionality even as basic as giving it the ability to respond to basic commands.
  • It does work as a speakerphone over Bluetooth iirc, and I'm guessing this would work even after this update (as with most Bluetooth speakers)
  • @DOGC_Kyle: nope. no speakerphone.
    1 - when I look at the bluetooth connection info via my Samsung phone, it clearly shows ONLY audio and NO "calls" option. That is different from my bluetooth headsets (jabra elite, bose qc 35, etc), which all the "calls" option enabled.
    2 - when I make a test phone call from my Samsung phone paired to Invoke, it uses the mic from my Samsung phone.
  • This is so sad. It was a great device. Now it's just a bt speaker with great sound.
  • Great my unused invoke will be paperweight
  • While Cortana still responds, her skills are now disabled. Asking her to do anything on here just responds that her service is coming to an end and to keep the speaker connected to wifi until the update has been done.
  • The latest (last?) casualty of Microsoft's haphazard attempts at mobile, sadly. If their acquisition of Nokia wasn't met with goofing around with cutting off legacy users on W10M and barely releasing competitive devices under Nadella, maybe Cortana could have built momentum from her early release with market-leading features (her geofencing functionality seemed to be at the top of the heap when it launched). Microsoft at least has done a semi-decent thing in offering a partial refund. I personally am not a digital assistant fan, but seeing this slow death is a sad reminder of how Microsoft constantly appears to live behind the competition by MILES with consumer-oriented products. I hope this changes someday, but it'll suck if they someday manage a workable assistant OTHER than Cortana, since it seemed like they had a decent start and then just gave up running.
  • What makes me mad about this is I bought that one month before they announced they were ending the Cortana support 😡
  • Hopefully you didn't pay a lot for it, and got your $50 gift card.
  • Has anyone looked into seeing if the device can be modified in any way to keep working? Whether it be custom firmware or redirecting requests to another server. I vaguely recall it being based on Windows IOT - if so, maybe there is Device Portal or other similar features? There is a micro USB port on the bottom iirc, but not sure if it can be used for anything. I'm hesitant to accept the update in case it locks out the potential to hack the device in the future. If it can be used for anything else at all, would probably be more useful than a basic Bluetooth speaker
  • Smart speakers are very cheap, no need to go through that hassle. It won't happen anyways as the servers are dead and I doubt anyone is looking to hack Alexa on it. You can link it to a cheap Alexa or Google Home if you want to continue using it as a smart speaker.
  • It's not based off w10 iot. It's Linux
  • This is the reason I stopped buying Microsoft products years ago...
  • So why be on a Windows forum? Nostalgia?
  • Oh, yes, we all knew this was coming. RIP - Zune, The Band, Windows Phone and now Cortana for consumers. "Microsoft giveth... And Microsoft taketh away..."
  • And don't forget Silverlight. A great environment for developers. And Kinect. I recently used my old Xbox 360 with the old Kinect. I didn't remember how great that was. Better than the new one. And Media Center. Media player. Live Essentials. Surface RT. etc. etc. My SIX Windows phones. Opportunities squandered.
  • Of so many places where MS missed it I feel Kinect was a big one. That could have been the doorway to so many cool things. But no, in true MS fashion they literally pulled the plug on it.
    When I see workout options like peloton and the Mirror. MS had a great workout system with Xbox/Kinect. They were on the forefront of what was coming and let it falter.
  • Actually Kinect still works as long as you're using a compatible Xbox. It's not able to do what it once was when the Xbox One first came out, but it's still functional for now with games that can utilize it. I think MSFT often can be it's worse enemy as they are trying to accommodate everyone. It's away to quickly exhaust your resources if you're not getting the consumer attraction and buy in you were hoping for. I think they need to stay focused on new genre products like what eventually became the Surface Pro and Surface Duo.
  • "While the Invoke speaker will no longer support Cortana, there is an update rolling out soon that will convert the device into a Bluetooth speaker." But this speaker is already a Bluetooth speaker. Just hit the bluetooth button on the back and use it as a bluetooth speaker. What's the big change? Am I missing something?
  • You are missing that you could not use it if it got reset because it forces you to set up cortana and then you could not.
  • That's the thing. In January it reset one of my devices. It no longer had Cortana capabilities. It kept saying you need to setup. I just decided to use the bluetooth and it worked perfectly. That's why I asked the question.
  • The bluetooth functionality is tied to the current firmware and Cortana. I guess once that ceases to work after June, so will the bluetooth functionality. If you had to reset the device, it will want to be set up on a network before you are able to use it as a bluetooth speaker. With the new update, the bluetooth functionality will automatically be on and devices can connect to it easily. The new update will eventually disable the wifi functions as well as the microphone and Cortana. I wish they kept the light animations as a signal that BT was on and connected, and even pulsate to music that is playing. That would have been a nice touch. No such luck. What I am curious about is having to remove the speaker from my phone and tablet and repair the connection once firmware update hits my speaker. Also, from a privacy standpoint, I am glad they will disabled the wifi and microphone so no one can "listen in". I am rather upset they weren't willing to support the device for longer. It would have good utility for conference calls and integrate with Teams for audio only calls. They could have kept the music part of it alive since people do listen to music at work. But MSFT has this uncanny ability to produce failed consumer products (with xbox is the exception) with zero support or paltry at best. One bright spot is that they were able to refashioned it for bluetooth device. Some companies, like Sonos, have old speakers meant for multiroom use and smart functions. Because they are not compatible with their new software and central control panels, the old (and perfectly good) devices are put out to pasture. But hey, everything has a shelf life. These companies only care about money. They provide limited support in last year's models (so to speak) so consumers can buy the newest. This is still a great speaker for music lovers. I have the bass turned up on my Windows Media Player on my tablet and this devices definitely delivers on the audio goodness. I can feel the music and sound is very crisp.
  • As I stated above in January my Invoke kept on saying I needed to reset. Even though I could still play it via wifi. So, I held the power button for 5 seconds then ... gone! Wifi, everything. It was like I just took the device out of the box. None of my computers recognized it. The connection was gone. So I just set it up through bluetooth and used it that way. That's why I'm like what's the big deal? But if the current bluetooth is linked to the wifi and when they shut it down it removes both capabilities I guess that's what will happen. It just seems strange to me. I have 4 original Sonos speakers. I had to buy an Android tablet to make sure they still can be used. They took away the PC functionality to setup SONOS devices. Since I don't own an iPhone or Android phone I had to breakdown and get a tablet.
  • Gotcha. I did not see your response when I posted my lengthy reply. Well if it is working as a bluetooth speaker then it should be continuing to work. My device got updated overnight and it is now just a speaker. Oh well. I don't necessarily need the smart functionality although it was so convenient to use it as such and really liked it.
  • Can I suggest we all reach out to Harman Kardon and ask them to enable the speaker as a speakerphone instead of being crippled as just a speaker? @HarmanKardon I have this beautiful Invoke speaker. Cortana was removed and it's now ONLY a speaker. Can you enable the microphones to make this a speakerphone? Or at least tell us why it's not possible? #cortana #homeoffice #speakers #reuse
  • OMG the new connected audio confirmation is rubbish.
  • What did you connect it to? I was thinking of connecting it one of my Alexa devices.
  • I did get the firmware update for it. I am ok with the device being a speaker only and the quality of the sound is amazing. I still prefer Windows Media Player, as I have the bass turned up and some of the SRS WOW effect a bit. Music is really brought to life so I will be continuing to use it even if the smart functions are gone.