Harman Kardon Invoke: Microsoft’s smart speaker now useless

[German]Users of Microsoft’s Harman Kardon Invoke (Cortana) speaker are facing functional degrading these days. According to the latest user reports, the originally 199 US $ expensive device is now more or less useless.


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Microsoft introduced the Cortana based smart speaker Harman Kardon Invoke in 2017. The device has been sold in the USA for 199 US $, but was later reduced to 100 US $. Because I’m living in Europe, where the Harman Kardon Invoke was never available, I did not focus on that device. But I recognized, that Microsoft withdraw Cortana from several products (see Microsoft removes Cortana support for Android & iOS), although Cortana is under development for Windows 10. In November 2019, there was this Microsoft blog post, which informed users that Cortana removed some features – at least temporarily – from Windows 10 Insider Previews. These included the Bing Instant Answers, but also Timer.

Harman Kardon Invoke – Features removed?

Those who bought a Harman Kardon Invoke should be a little frustrated now. MS Power User has noticed, the features of the smart speaker are now gone. In Microsoft Answers forum there is this thread from the beginning of November 2019, where a user complains about the fact that his Harman Kardon Invoke, which he already has for some time, suddenly goes on strike during setup.

It stopped working suddenly, and when I tried to reset it (by holding the mute button for 5 seconds) the speaker never finishes setting up. The Cortana device setup app says it’s ready to go, but the speaker itself never says so, the light just keeps slowly blinking forever.

I’ve tried using different WIFI networks, re-installing the setup app, trying the setup on my phone, and I’ve even made sure all my software is up to date. I have a theory that the device can never be linked to my account for some reason, since it never shows up in the “My Devices” panel in my Cortana app.

Since December, other users have been reporting that they have suddenly noticed a kind of digital amnesia and loss of features in their Cortana speakers. One writes:

I have the same problems like you, it seems that second step auth on my Microsoft account is messing up the link between my Microsoft account and the invoke. Definitely it is a change that Microsoft did because it used to work fine, I hope you find the solution.

And of December 9, 2019 another user reported an issue suddenly occurs with hit Harman Kardon Invoke:

my invoke stopped working with Hue lights last night and I cant seem to get it going.  all my other devices are working fine.  And its both my invokes that started this at the same time.

There are other users in the thread who report problems – so device failure is more likely to be ruled out. And on reddit.com there is this thread where someone writes that he can’t set up (appointment) reminders anymore:


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Since yesterday neither of my HK Invokes (I have several) creates reminders or adds to lists anymore. Saying “remind me to” or “add to list” gives “Sorry, I can’t help with that”. Music, weather, and regular searches work as expected. Is there a backend problem? I’ll be resetting one of my Invokes to see if the problem goes away, but has anyone else noticed this?

UPDATE the plot thickens: “Alexa, open Cortana” isn’t working on my echo devices.

UPDATE 2: more and more people reporting similar problems, but apparently outside the US only? Can anyody in the US confirm Cortana on invoke working after 0730am Eastern?

UPDATE 3: at the moment (9am CET/3am Eastern Monday) all my invokes and the Android app are working.

There, too, other users confirm that they also have problems. One user writes that the loudspeaker is working again, but it gives me too many error messages from users who posted afterwards. There is also no satisfactory answer to the threads at reddit.com and the Microsoft Answers forum. It seems to me that the service that is needed in the background is just dying.

Addendum: I received two feedbacks from blog readers. The first ist the tweet from Barb Bowmand added below:

And a German blog reader informed me about a project that his friend is running. He uses a Raspberry Pi and redirects the commands to that computer. He promised to keep me updates on progress of this project. Perphaps I can introduce this project later within my blog.


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1 Response to Harman Kardon Invoke: Microsoft’s smart speaker now useless

  1. Malcolm Anthony says:

    Keeps turning red lights wont get pass update

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