Microsoft has repeatedly signaled that it wants to enter the home automation market for awhile. Only recently have they given a clear sign of their intention to challenge the existing competition in the automation market.
Dipping their toes in the waters
Back in 2014, they partnered with Insteon with plans to add Insteon’s home automation network into the Microsoft ecosystem. Not much was heard from the computer giant afterward about its venture into home automation. However, in 2016 they announced their new home automation vision. They announced that they want to make Windows 10 work with a variety of devices and appliances using new Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) protocols.
They also wanted to make it easy for users to automate tasks using mobile devices, Windows PC, and Xbox consoles through Cortana. For some time, industry insiders have been saying that that the company’s secret weapon to get into the home automation industry is its assistant Cortana. In a world where voice control gains popularity by the day, Cortana is their best bet in beating the earlier entrants into the game.
Now it turns out that the rumors that came out in 2016 about Microsoft’s new Windows 10 feature called HomeHub were true and that Cortana would be a major feature in it. Unlike the Echo, the HomeHub software turns your PC the center of your home. It allows you make PCs communal and brings the connected home to Windows.
The communal aspect of HomeHub doesn’t require you to switch between accounts when using a shared family PC. This means that you don’t have to use a password to access family data, apps, bookmarks, documents, and so on. Everyone will still have their own accounts, but there will be a family account that remains logged in. It will have everything that your family wants to see like calendar appointments, specific apps, and more.
For instance, if you were to open up the calendar app, you can see all of the appointments shared with the family together with your private calendar events. Once you sign off, all your private calendar appointments will be hidden from other family members. They then will only see their private appointments and appointments shared with the family.
It will also feature welcome screens that display schedules and notes for your whole family. The welcome screen will use the “family account” and you can launch family-enabled apps with the family desktop. Any Windows 10 machine will now act as a hub for interaction between smart devices in your home.
Voice command via Cortana
Microsoft’s Cortana will allow you to control your home automation systems through voice commands just like Alexa. In fact, Cortana will listen for voice commands when on the welcome screen allowing you to activate her from anywhere in a room. The HomeHub will also offer features similar to the Echo View such as video calls, home automation management, and support for various devices. These devices will include Phillips Hue bulbs, Nest devices, and Samsung SmartThings.
Microsoft is no longer testing the waters but has dived right into it by taking the fight directly to the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo. They are in a better position to do this worldwide since HomeHub will be available on Windows PCs. They do not need to create an Echo speaker look-alike to compete. For more information about home automation, please visit our website today.