After a relatively lackluster first entry into the connected speaker market with last year's Harmon Kardon-built Invoke, Microsoft is reportedly ready for a second attempt in partnership with Taiwanese electronics maker Quanta Computer. That's according to a new report published out of Germany and based on unspecified developer documentation. Having said that, there have been at least a few technical specifications outlined in the purported documents. Among the most interesting points of note is that it claims to be optimized for the "Internet of Things" but there's no way to know how the company plans to accomplish that and no details for what that actually means have been given.
For starters, the smart speaker is said to feature one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 212 SoCs, generally used for the mobile industry in budget devices. The chipset is typically comprised of four ARM Cortex-A7 cores, clocked at 1.3GHz and backed by an Adreno 304 graphics unit. The use of such a low-end chip is hardly surprising though since most of the performance power, aside from audio drivers and the like, would almost certainly be reliant on server-side hardware. The speaker's smarts would presumably be powered by Microsoft's own Cortana, though there might be some room for integrating Amazon's Alexa for smart home integration given recent speculation about a collaboration between the companies. The addition of well-thought-out smart home integration would be a definite improvement over the company's last smart speaker. In the meantime, it goes without saying that there's no way to determine what type of speakers would be included or how powerful those would be.
According to the documents, the project is still very early in development, so it's probably best if nobody sets high expectations to see a finished product anytime soon. Moreover, this could very well just be a reference device – which is something generally created to provide a starting point for other manufacturers to follow. There's no guarantee that would actually happen, however, and without some kind of incentive, it's difficult to see Microsoft making headway there. After all, Google has been making tons of headway with its Assistant while Amazon's Alexa continues to maintain the overwhelming lead. So Microsoft it seems as though Microsoft has nearly all of its work still ahead of it, whether the report is accurate or not.