Microsoft will enter the smart home market competing against Amazon Echo and Google Home with a new service called “Home Hub,” according to Windows Central.
Unlike Google or Amazon, Home Hub is a software instead of a hardware device. Meanwhile, Microsoft will integrate Home Hub with its Windows 10 operating system so that users can experience the smart home experience right on their PC.
“Microsoft’s end goal with Home Hub is to make shared PCs much more communal and helpful for multiple people that have to use them,” says the report.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana will show up on the lockscreen to provide help to users. Also, Cortana will connect with other apps so that PCs can function like a Google Home or Amazon Echo, but with a screen.
Microsoft is also building additional apps to more easily connect smart home devices with Windows 10. The company aims to make Windows 10 the central hub for all the connected home devices, such as lights and doorlocks. Home Hub then will serve as an unified control hub to change settings of connected home appliances.
By then, Cortana will work with Windows 10 and let users control home devices by voice commands, just like what they are doing with Google Home and Amazon Echo now.
Since many people already have a Windows PC at home, building smart home features directly on Microsoft’s platform might be proven convenient for many.
Microsoft is also encouraging its OEM partners to create devices compatible with Home Hub. Lenovo and HP are reportedly already in the talk.
The timeline to launch Home Hub is not clear yet. Microsoft might release the feature in the next Windows 10 update in late 2017, or the next one in 2018, according to Windows Central.