harman invoke microsoft windows cortana
The Harman Invoke is a Microsoft Cortana-powered smart speaker, taking on Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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On Monday morning, Microsoft officially unveiled the Invoke — a smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo, manufactured by Samsung subsidiary Harmon, with a price to be disclosed when it officially launches this Fall.

Powered by Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant, the Invoke works like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Use your voice to control your music, get simple questions answered, or consult your calendar. It does sport one killer feature: With Skype integration, you’ll be able to use the Invoke to call people on their normal telephone numbers, if you have Skype credit.

What’s really interesting is the timing. This news comes ahead of the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle next week, where the tech titan is expected to focus in large part on new opportunities for developers to build Cortana into their own apps and hardware.

Meanwhile, Amazon is reinforcing its position as the leader in the burgeoning market for voice assistants: Earlier this month, Amazon unveiled the Echo…