Microsoft might be ready to rejoin the smart speaker wars with a new reference device made by partnering ODM Quanta.
For the past year, there have been few ways to engage with Microsoft' digital assistant in what's becoming the more "traditional' voice-to-speaker communications, outside of owning a PC or a relatively niche Harmon Kardon. As Amazon's Alexa and Google's assistant get plastered on everything with a microphone attached, Microsoft lacking presence seemed to be a signal that the company would rather sit this competition out rather than make a go at an also-ran device with limited visibility.
However, it seems that Microsoft might have gotten a second wind in providing hardware to showcase its Cortana digital assistant. During Build 2018, Microsoft repeatedly leaned on its partnership with Amazon to promote is cross-platform ubiquity with Alexa, but according to Winfuture.de, the company may be prepping a device of its own to highlight the benefit of a Cortana powered speaker.
There aren't many details about the Quanta speaker and at this point, most observations are based on reference material that only makes note of a Snapdragon 212 processor pair with a couple of early mockups.
Let it be noted, that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been quick to 'disappear' products or projects that don't meet a certain standard and the Quanta development could be all for naught in the end.
However, a first party speaker may be what Microsoft needs to focus buyers' attention. As Microsoft embarks on a rehabilitation of its brand by exercising the negative connotations of Windows from its name, another Surface-like reference device for smart home speakers could be just the trick for Surface owners looking to complete their "new" Microsoft ecosystem of hardware.