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Microsoft's 'Cortana speaker' features are set to rival Amazon Echo's Alexa

Halo
Halo (Image credit: Microsoft)

We acquired information that points to a new "Cortana speaker" feature in Windows, complete with iconography that looks similar to Amazon's Echo line of digital home assistant speakers.

Cortana, of course, is Microsoft's digital assistant baked into Windows 10. She's also available on Android and iOS, and is inspired by the character of the same name from the Halo universe. A new Cortana Device Setup app launches a new page within Cortana itself, allowing you to access a wizard to set up your Cortana-powered device. The tutorial seems to be related to a separate, unavailable app for now, with a "buy" button that links to Microsoft's home page.

The language suggests Microsoft is planning a bigger push to bring Cortana to third-party audio devices, but the company could also get in on the action at some point with its own "Cortana Speaker" device or devices. With a rumored hardware event looming, there's a chance we could see soon see some Cortana-powered home speakers on stage before an official launch, while Microsoft finishes off these new features.

Microsoft and Harmon Kardon unveiled a Cortana-powered speaker late last year, with the view of launching it more widely in 2017. It seems these features are the first steps towards integrating those external devices with Windows itself.

With the PC in decline, we believe Microsoft has been experimenting with other ways to bring its services into homes. Our own Senior Editor Zac Bowden detailed Microsoft's Home Hub platform last year, which was believed to eventually become the centralized control center for your future smart home, complete with Cortana support.

With Cortana arriving as part of the Windows 10 set-up experience in Redstone 2, Microsoft's digital assistant could be poised for a larger play in the future, considering this new information.

Stay tuned to Windows Central for more "Cortana Device" information as we get it.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

303 Comments
  • Sorry. But not investing in anything Microsoft anymore until leadership changes its tactics or the current starts being more honest and transparent.
  • Their tactics are ok, and the leadership is fine. Don't judge the whole company (which is doing quite fine ATM) based on one product that is having troubles.
  • And was having troubles for many years prior to the current leadership. If anything, Satya bought more time with the board and shareholders to not completely pull the plug.
  • Dont know what to tell you. Have spent to much money on dead devices from them.
  • Then no need to be at a Microsoft focused site, right?
  • Says who? You? Unfortunately, that's not your call, nor your business. I'll continue to come here to see what Panos developed and I will continue to support him.
  • You'll get over it. Everyone eventually does. Try not to stay bitter too long though. It'll age you quicker than a payday loan.
  • Not bitter at all. Funny some of you want to act like you are two if someone thinks logically and it does t coincide with what you think. Grow up.
  • Dude, I get what you're saying. You're just being honest. I don't see anything trolling about the way you put your original comment. I'm the biggest WP fan here, been here from the beginning, and will be here till the end.. I've had a Samsung Epix, Samsung Focus, Lumina 920, 1520, and a 950... Can't nobody tell me 💩 ... I know this platform in, and out. I understand the troubles of MS's lack of support from the industry, and MS's marketing has been horrific for WP as an OS.... Negative, or positive, my comments will always be truthful, and never serve just to satisfy a few bitter fans.
    You're right. As far as mobile goes, MS is doing little (that we can see) to keep us excited. Yes, I'm also waiting to see if Panos is our savior. If anyone can do it he can... We need Ben the PC guy, and the little hairy dude back, in full force (Forgot his name). Lol. Damn!.. Anyways, I still have hope, but I'm skeptical at this point, as well. MS better come with something said strongly about their plans for mobile at Build 2017. But, I'm keeping faith, because if they are developing a Surface Device I want the opportunity to have one. Maybe even a version 2.. Either way, anyone who disagrees, well, that's their problem. You should be able to speak your mind freely here without being bashed, as long as It's reasonable, and sans trolling.
  • Nope. That's how it is now. Either praise a CEO who is intentionally tanking one of the most important sectors for the upcoming decade, or your called a troll. This place has become laughable. Even Daniel and the others are saying the same thing now. Guess they are trolls also.
  • The dude you're talking is Joe Belfiore.
  • He has been gone for a long, long time.
  • Theyre just lame. They know this Microsoft **** is over. They are nothing but beta testers for a leader that's always playing catchup
  • Not his business? But you bring your business/complaints and then defend your whiny tactics. Yeah i can i agree with you that mobile is a flop though I love the OS it really blows right now, if Microsoft never touches the consumer hardware for a phone again (I hope not) but they can succeed as it in a business aspect then more power to them i get it if your just a fan of their phones but I like pretty much everything about MS. Mainly PC and Xbox (used to their phones, switch from my LG v20 to an Alcatel Idol 4S, yes I know not as powerful but the apps I didn't realize would make or break me but they did and facebook and messenger two main apps I use are a joke and that's not entirely MS to blame. You are my than entitled to your opinion as am I but don't complain that others may not agree with how you feel. Especially when you make your complaints to the public.
  • I dont read any posts over 2 pages long unless they grab my attention immediately. Yours was a snore fest.
  • lolololol
  • #Troll
  • If he is a #Troll than 2/3 of this site are #Trolls because most of us have had it with how they used us as paying beta testers and then appearing to have pulled the plug without ever giving what many of us feel like as a finished product. Go look at the definition of troll in the manner you are "trying" to use it. It is meant for those who post something just for a reaction. These posts are from people that are stating exactly how they feel and what the believe. The closest thing to a troll in this thread is you.
  • Who is the "he" you refer to? I was calling you a troll lol.   Look at your posts, they are YOUR exact defintion of a "troll". Posts designed just to get a reaction.
  • And the same argument applies. You have no clue what you are talking about, troll. Lord, the irony.
  • Okay, you win. You can on a Windows website to complain about Windows and how you wont invest in the platform, then you tell someone that comments on what you said (in a public forum) that is isn't their business... but I'm the troll!   Fair enough, you win. I'm a troll lol. Okay, that's my last post on the subject, enjoy hating Microsoft in private, but on a public forum lol.
  • I go on a Microsoft site to complain about products they half ass supported. I'm good with the Surface line Windows 10, and Xbox. You feel free to keep singing the praises of half ass efforts that we paid for and see if they ever change their ways.
  • You buy a product on what it can do NOW, not future updates. Jeez teens turning "adult" with no guidance from their parents. I am telling you now then. If the product doesn't do what you want it to NOW, then don't buy it. If a company burns you, don't buy from them. Done and done.
  • I bought it for what they claimed it could do. Said texting was possible right on the box of the Band 2. Guess what? A great percentage of us just get the connection error when doing that. Stop making silly excuses for an incompetent tech team. You sound ridiculous.
  •   Then walk away. If mine didn't work when I had it, then I would simply return it and walk away. Microsoft is a "special" child lol. If you can't deal with that, then stop buying their products. Voting with your wallet does work. And you are not making much sense with your replies man. Just calm down. 
  • Spoken like a true Microsoft Apologists. "walk away". Money was already spent. They were only willing to exchange for two more devices that all had the same issue. You and Nutella should join up...its everyone's fault, but Microsoft's.
  • Indeed you are taking this too personal. Ease up my friend and be less uptight 'bout this. I bet there are more people here who have spent much more than you do on dead products from MSFT, but hey they don't bring down the house to air their views.
  • Not bringing any house down. You seem to be there one taking this a little to personal. I just post my thoughts.
  • Anyone who is maybe a bit jaded after years of being torched by MS is automatically a troll.
    How sad
  • That's how this site has become now.
  • Never complained they dont feel how I feel. I'm laughing at them for going nuts over how I feel. BIG DIFFERENCE.
  • Wrong
  • You tell 'em. Some of the fanbois on here could get carjacked by Microsoft and would still put on their kneepads...happily.
  • Exactly
  • Every device from every company ends up being a "dead device". It's the nature of electronics.
  • Not when they never have gotten that device to work properly. If that the case, then I want a full refund on my band 2 and 950XL. I'd have to live with the dumped support for the Surface RT because that actually worked as advertised (and amazingly enough it is the one device on my list that was started and finished with Panay..kudos to him).
  • They need to be taken to correct.
  • I have had a 950xl from launch till about 10months in, the initial experience was terrible (how would Microsoft dare to release such a alpha product at premium prices?) but ten months in it was actually a good experience (in my case).
    I can't comment on the current state of the Lumia 950/950xl as I drifted for a while with Android (N6) until I eventually came back to Windows 10 Mobile (HP Elite x3), that Phone has been wonderful thus far (my only - with it is its mediocre cameras).
    I understand that first party devices have been lackluster at best and that OEM devices aren't as widely available as we'd (and probably Microsoft to) would like, but the whole Windows 10 mobile experience is an excellent expansion of Windows 10 on desktop (Windows 10 Mobile is far more similar to Windows 10 then WP7 or WP8(.1) ever where to their respective desktop counterparts)
    With W10M finally being out of BETA stage and with several great hardware opportunities coming with the new Qualcomm chips I hope Microsoft is going to push it's mobile platform(s) the second half of 2017 and all the way through 2018.
    With the right devices and actual good marketing they could push this.
    Windows 10 Mobile is uniquely differentiated from the current industry standard bearers (Apples iOS and Google's 'me too' Android) while still familiar to hundreds of millions of Windows 10 users as it ties in to a huge ecosystem of devices and is actually really easy to use (a lot of people, if they take a short time to get to know the OS, would love it's simplicity while keeping the customization capability of making it your own personal experience)
    I get why they entrenched for a while but now they have a good product that can hold It's own against the dominant market forces, its time to let it step into the light ;-)
  • Let's be real here, that might be so but MS has a monopoly in this field.
  • A monopoly in what field?
  • Like which? Zune? That's probably the only one (who got canceled.) Windows on mobile is still a live, though some older devices might not be supported anymore, but that's Industry standard (and most people update devices every 2 years anyway)
    So please tell me, which services (that cost you so much money, with emphasis on cost you money), did Microsoft cancel?!
  • Devices that are not supported have hardware that is outdated or just to limited to work on an updated OS.  
  • My 950XL has outdated software? Think not. Then why is there still so many issues and why have they passed off their support to BX2 that has zero clue the phone even exists and even less of an idea what to do about issues or how to repair them???
  • Certainly agree with 19Michael87 on that one. Zune software still available after all these years. So is my favourite Visualizer Winamp (not Microsoft) but still happily runs on Windows 10 and via touch input. Try and "touch" any MacOs device.
    All companies cancel devices all the time, that cancelled device still functions for its normal lifespan. Still using my Band1.
  • Band 2 won't text for most of us and that is a feature listed on the box. Completely different topic. You people keep trying to take unrelated issues to defend Microsoft for some dumb stuff they have pulled. Knock it off. Its embarrassing.
  • Apart from phones what have they killed... My issue is where is he speakers for this Cortana home experience.
  • Why have your devices died? Ours are alive and kicking.
  • Weak and ****** snd half bake. All my phone power up to..so what and they are a price of **** when it comes to software and stripped features. Stop using the insider ring and you'll have an old outdates phone.. Quit playing
  • I don't get it... How are your phones not working?
  • I feel you on the money spent, but "dead devices"? At the time you bought them, or subsequently?
  • They were all in the first quarter when bought. I get some devices fail and support gets dropped, but Microsoft is making it a habit of doing that 90% of the time if they dont hit a homerun right out of the gate. Ironically, some of their most successful items are ones that someone forced them to spend some money and ride put the hard initial beginning launches. Its all about money without the hard work now.
  • "2/3 of this site are #Trolls because most of us have had it " and "90%" of support gets dropped. Where the hell are you pulling these numbers from?  And you're coming in here calling everyone that doesn't agree with you trolls?  LOL.
  • I did a study using my Microsoft Band 2.
  • I don't know why, but I'm expecting Microsoft to find some way to completely screw this up too.
  • Because everything is thought of as an experiment by the board room and if it doesn't make ½ billion in the first quarter they cut it.
  • "I'll continue to come here to see what Panos developed and I will continue to support him" But isn't anything Panos comes up with under that same leadership that you refuse to invest in?  Can you please clarify your initial comment?
  • Everything I've bought that has been developed under him works pretty damn well out of the gate and I dont ever worry about support. Management kills very few of his products. Its the polar opposite with anything not tied to his name.
  • Okay, thanks for clarifying.
  • Oh so your beef is actually with Satya, not Panay and not other members on this thread?
  • If this product is absolutely terrific MS will not market it properly, or at all😐
  • That is the scary thing... Which we keep hoping will change. Not sure how they plan for poor marketing of their products after so much effort to build them in the first place.
  • The new leadership isnt up to the task and needs to be canned. Everyone keeps saying this is a software company...trust me, they went into so many hardware divisions because they know they won't be relevant in a decade with that thinking and may even be close to extinction.
  • One thing I do agree with, as a long-time Microsoft products user.  I does seem like Satya is more interested in kissing Apple and Android users asses than he is with throwing a bone to windows mobile users.  I understand it's business, but there should be something to be said about loyality. For those that want to say "It's business", or "shareholders blah blah" that doesn't change how loyal customers feel.  Here's probably a not so perfect analogy.  Imagine if a good friend of yours was starting a business that looked like it was going to have legs to make big things happen.  You've known him like a brother, and you applied to work for his company along with a total stranger, that stranger was a slighlty better technicial that you and he hired the stranger and told that that it was just business.  Are you good with that?
  • I'm expecting Microsoft to find some way to completely screw this up.
  • As usual... What's wrong with them?
  • The majority shareholders are Gates, Ballmer and Paul Allen.  And they picked Satya.  He didn't 'buy time', he is doing exactly what the board and shareholders want him to do.
  • The board never wanted to buy Nokia and have wanted to pull out of mobile for quite some time. Retrenching allowed him to reassess the situation and hope we have a future.
  • Again, it does not matter.  The controlling interest in the company is among the shareholders I just listed.  Unless 'the board' can come up with enough shareholders to counter the trio of Gates/Ballmer/Allen, it does not matter what they want, they can be overruled.  Satya's their guy.  He is doing what they want.  Whether or not the board agrees.
  • I know you say that, but between dumping money in Surface RT in the beginning Microsoft Band 2, and a 950XL to see support dropped so quickly for each, I dont agree their tactics are fine and im sitting out on anything new from them until leadership is changed or they show a commitment to supporting their products longer than they have.
  • To you, what is a fair support time?
  • Well, I could live with the Surface RT support time, I guess...but with both my Band 2 and 950XL failing at just about just over a year, and not being able to get a Band 2 replacement and development having topped before that, and the 950XL repair being passed off to the worst third party tech I have ever dealt with....i cam say that wouldn't have happened with Apple or Samsung.
  • Standard warranty time for most electronics is 12 months.
  • look at the 950/XL 650 ... do you think that W10M on it looks, feels and acts like a finished product? Its alpha/beta since purchase so its a big rip off. Its not about support, you can support a finished product and upgrade it but W10M needs much more then just "support".. it needs development... but that wont happen
  • Exactly. Tired of being labeled a BETA tester and its "my fault I paid to be a BETA tester. Its been a joke for a while. To be honest, the only way I'd touch anything from Microsoft again is if it came fro. Panos Panay and he believed in it. Otherwise there flat out is no reason to have any faith in the product or what they claim the vision of it is.
  • Just don't get into the insider builds if you don't have the attitude for it.. I remember Panos and his introduction of 950/950 XL. A minute and no enthusiasm. Please don't think he functions in an autocracy.. Whatever he does is after Nadella approves it. Lol.. BTW Zune, Windowd Ce all perished during Balmer. Microsoft crashed from being a behemoth to almost gone under Balmer I find it surprising how and why people consider him a hero. He was a very passionate guy, but he missed quite some tech cues and let google apple stomp all over MS. The culture has become much better now. 950 XL was the begining of the end for mobile. McLaren looked too much like 950. Nokia was making too many forgetable devices. It was unfortunate but mobile would have sucked MS dry the way they were progressing. Blackberry is dead, HTc dead, Sony unprofitable.. Even Motorola was sold by google. Mobile was lost unless MS made a revolutionary device and Nokis was nowehere close
  • dude, honestly 950/X3 without Insider is a useless blank papper. If you want to use all functions and have a more optimalised phone you need to opt in for Insider and thats just pathetic. Its ok to have Insider program for BETA things but when you need the Insider to unlock the potential of your phone thats not right
  • I guess...bur my 950XL is useless on production. Bugs everywhere. Just went on vacation and the camera was useless and wrecked so many pictures. Crash, crash, lock up, saving. Complete garbage.
  • Missionsparta - I totally get what you are saying, but I have one question.  Why don't you just pack it in and move on; stop using their products.  If my 950XL bailed on me during my vacation and I missed some good photo opportunities, I would have reset it while on vacation and if that didn't work, I would move on to another product and not buy MS phones again. Once I move on from a product line, I NEVER come back I don't care how good their stuff becomes in the future.
  • I'm waiting for the new Galaxy and will access that. If im not completely sold, ill wait for the next iPhone. And if that still doesn't sell me, ill buy some used android or iPhone off eBay, save some cash and just make due.
  • I'm waiting for the new Galaxy and will access that. If im not completely sold, ill wait for the next iPhone. And if that still doesn't sell me, ill buy some used android or iPhone off eBay, save some cash and just make due.
  • Dude, then you should have waited until Redstone 2 was released to buy a Win10m device, dude. The features didn't exist when the phone was released, dude. That's why phones get updates, dude. April 25th, dude.
  • What features didnt exists? A working camera? A text app that doesnt lock up or slow to a crawl? A keyboard that doesn't show up half the time? Get out of here. Lol
  • Oh no. That's a lot of headaches from your device enough to make one go crazy ☺☺
  • But...."The smartphone beta test is over." Haha. Anyone remember that ad with the Lumia 900? Guess they weren't really lying. That beta test did end while another began......And then another and another.
  • I'm on fast ring L650, same for my SP4 and insider ring 3 on XB1 and quite happy with it given that it is not a finished product nor am I foolish enough to think that it ever will be but that's what I signed up for so I don't ***** and whine about every little glitch.
  • I have been lucky with W10M since the last iterations before 10.0.10240.x I have some friends that were unlucky but nothing too awful. So far it is still fun to see the improvements although lately they are not as awesome as before.
  • This is my sentiments exactly. If you buy a Windows phone these days you know what you're getting into before you buy it. You know the apps are an issue and that things are a bit buggy but you accept those imperfections and enjoy it for what it is. At least that's what some of us do
  • welcome back pappale, thought you were gone for good
  • welcome back pappale, thought you were gone for good
  • welcome back pappale, thought you were gone for good
  • Support is dropped for the 950XL?   news to me, I just got an OS update and I get app updates every week.
  • No it isn't. It is the usual drama queens.
  • It's not one product, though. Plays for Sure, Kin, Kinect, Zune, SPOT Watches, Windows Mobile/Phone/Mobile reboots, Band, MCE (with extenders and portable), Surface RT. Windows and Office have been plugging along forever and Surface is an unqulified success. XBox is doing fine. It's not gangbusters but appears to be a viable business. Those other things can reasonably cause some concern in MSs ability to promote and support lesser products. No question they can produce decent stuff, but they have a history of not achieving market success and then abandoning them, leaving early adopters with a drawer full of forgotten tech. 
  • I had all those and then bought 3 HD DVD players as well because MS were supporting and promoting it.
  • Super smart to only buy things that you actually need and save money...but save the theatrics 😜
  • Ummm...not only that I need....read again. Only things I trust the backing in anymore. And there is no theatrics. Everyone should read softly with new products and Microsoft under this leadership.
  • Yet... You have gotten more updates on all those "dead" products than you do on the Android ecosystem. Why is that not a problem to those people?
  • Andoid's past years are rock solid. Th software they keep "updating" is buggier than the last version. The woman heading the Mobile division is either incompetent and/or uninspired. Either way the board should have fired her a year ago.
  • Android has been out much longer.  Do you honestly believe there are no bugs with that OS?  Hell, even iOS has bugs.
  • Windows phone has been out forever. Completely rebooting to Windows 10 Mobile and then putting this lady in charge that has no motivation and no pride in her job has really killed it.
  • Not engaging with a known troll.
  • Good. Then stop talking to yourself. I'm the world's biggest Windows phone fan. Trolling isn't defined as posting the honest truth. Keep being blind.
  • Not engaging with a known troll.
  • What a poor comment.
    An obvious MS fan is jaded from years of disappointment and that's all you've got. Nice.
  • Exactly. I think the last two weeks finally broke my faith in Microsoft. This will likely be another half heartedly launched beta product with minimal commitment to marketing and availability. Nadella won't give it a chance to have a second generation product which could have ironed out the flaws of the first version. :(
  • Same here, I was sold by WC and now I want a S8...
  • If they can show the same resolve as they did with the Surface line or Xbox then I'm sure they would succeed.
  • Me either.
    Too many disappointments over too many years I'm not buying another MS product until its fully proven and embedded in the market place. Not another $ until then
  • They did get rid of the ******* who first ran Xbox one. Reshuffled surface team and now more focused on refining windows 10.
  • I'm with you, missionsparta.
  • Thank you, Ricardo. I dont know how people think my way of looking at new Microsoft products is ridiculous. I'd be an idiot if I did it any other way.
  • Me too, I started to have the same feeling and if Microsoft isn't winning its most loyal and die hard fans,it isn't winning anywhere, and I am not talking just about phones...
  • So, just go enjoy your apple devices. No need to try to convince other people you have made a good choice?
  • He said nothing about apple devices
  • The other option is google, and that is clearly not what you chose if you want support or well running software.
  • You mean Android? You use one lately? It runs ten times better than this half backed Windows 10 Mobile crap this woman has done nothing with. Fire her and the CEO at once and you will fix a bunch of issues.
  • Yes, I help friends with them daily. Very, very bad quality software. It is incredible that people spend more than five minutes on them and I can understand why people are running away from their tablets.
  • I just had a huge response to this talking about the laziness of the woman in charge of Windows 10 Mobile and the dead beat CEO, but as usual the software flitches out on the notification center, and I lost it all...so just fill in the irony right here.
  • Strange. The amount of builds this "lazy woman" has pushed to us insiders is unprecedented. Never before has the fast ring been so active and I can't even count the amount of RS1 and 2 builds there have been.
  • ...and everyt
  • What apple device do I own? I'll continue to come here and voice my opinion as long as Panay continues to develop devices. I back him at this point...not the board or the rest of this messed up company. Google or Apple should try to poach him though. He us the only valuable talent left at this company.
  • More power to you.  But don't come here calling people that are actually enjoying Microsoft devices names because that don't agree with you.  Keep it civil.
  • Where did I call someone a name?
  • I agree can't look at a Microsoft product the same anymore and everyone should just stop with the bs fan boying. Microsoft has let us down as fans and continues to let us down.
  • You can never be a good investor if you don't put everything into perspective but just one product.
  • Don't blame you... Can't be mad at anyone for thinking that...
  • I'm glad you are still active on a MS themed forum though...
  • Same here, spartan. You're absolutely right. Aside: look at all the down-votes you got. Hilarious. Good luck spending your hard earned $$ on this Cortana speaker. Hope it will not end the same as our windows mobile adventure, ms band and so on ... probably it will
  • I guess you're reflecting on the phone division of msft.
  • I'm with you! I have a b