Microsoft's 'Cortana speaker' features are set to rival Amazon Echo's Alexa
It looks like Microsoft is finally ready to take another step toward bringing Cortana further into its customers' homes, based on some upcoming Windows features.
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.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at 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!