Hey, Alexa! Microsoft's First Cortana Speaker Is Coming

Watch out, Amazon and Google. Here comes Microsoft.

Microsoft this week published a blog post teasing a new smart home device that would compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. While the company didn't share many details, it published a video showing different shots of a device that looks similar to the Amazon Echo, complete with a cylindrical design and place for a speaker to play sound.

Audio company Harman Kardon, which Samsung will own when it closes the $8 billion Harman acquisition it announced last month, has developed the device and will release it in 2017, according to the video. It will rely on Microsoft's virtual personal assistant Cortana.

In its blog post, Microsoft declined to offer details on the device, and only teased the video, saying Harman Kardon "will have more news to share next year about their plans."

Cortana Speaker from Harman Kardon

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The video was published alongside Microsoft's announcement that it's making available its Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana Devices software development kit. The software will allow third-party hardware makers to bundle Cortana in their products and deliver its features, including search, bots, and many other skills.

Microsoft's tack in the smart home industry is slightly different than Amazon and Google's. Those companies have developed their own hardware running their virtual assistants. Microsoft has not yet announced plans to develop its own hardware and is apparently hoping that its own virtual assistant Cortana will appeal to other device makers and make its way to their many devices.

The smart home appliance war is officially on.

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