Better than Amazon Echo and Google Home, at least
Microsoft apparently will confront the rise of smart speakers with a new kind of all-in-one PC, judging from leaked images and details of a Windows 10 HomeHub experience provided to The Verge.
HomeHub, which first leaked late last year, is essentially an enhanced version of the Windows 10 lock screen that allows for deeper voice controls through Cortana and more pertinent information than any Windows lock screen has provided.
Of course, the idea is for this new HomeHub overlay to be released in tandem with slightly specialized all-in-one computers through its device manufacturing partners, computers deliberately designed to be placed in kitchens and living rooms.
Citing internal sources, The Verge reports that HomeHub will act as an always-on experience for touchscreen all-in-one PCs, with a digital drawing board being one of its primary features. The suspicion is that Microsoft is working with partners on devices comparable to that of the newly-minted Amazon Echo Show.
However, those sources also allegedly say that any device running Windows 10 HomeHub must be a full PC, as that’s to be one of Microsoft’s key advantages over existing and future smart speakers.
Finally, a place for the PC again
Microsoft’s goal here seems to provide a compelling reason to bring all-in-one PCs that were so popular decades ago back into consumers’ houses where laptops, tablets and phones have ruled for years. Further to that point will be features like calendar management, sticky notes and to-do lists as well as voice calls (likely through Skype).
To really cement in whole “HomeHub” idea, the feature is expected to support Hue, Nest, Insteon, Wink and SmartThings devices, with Cortana able to issue commands to said devices.
According to The Verge’s sources, Microsoft plans for these features to arrive in Windows 10 with the forthcoming autumn update due in September. As a follow-up, Microsoft reportedly expects HP and Lenovo to have such devices ready for the holiday rush.
As for when we’ll officially see Windows 10 HomeHub and the various devices in which it will live, either Microsoft Build 2017 or its May 23 Surface event are fine guesses.