Skip to main content

HomeHub Needs To Be Windows' Headless Horseman

Microsoft will be including new functionality in the next release of Windows 10 aimed at competing with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home devices. The feature, to be called HomeHub, according to more than one source, will extend Cortana's under the lock screen feature to create a personal assistant for the whole family.

That's a nice idea, but Microsoft has some work to do to make this useful or even viable.

Currently Cortana on the Xbox One offers some of this functionality - you can turn your Xbox on, launch apps and perform web searches when the Xbox is sleeping. However Cortana on the Xbox is mostly mute, the strength of the Amazon Echo is that it has no screen and Alexa responds verbally to natural language queries.

HomeHub needs to be usable in exactly the same way. At the moment Cortana too often replies with a 'here's what I found' message and displayed results. That isn't going to be an acceptable alternative to what Amazon is currently offering.

HomeHub needs to be able to work headless - without a screen - and not only will it need to work headless, but it must also provide sufficient intelligence to allow third-party OEMs to build Amazon Echo-like devices which are straightforward for a user to setup.

The beauty of the Echo is its ability to live anywhere in a home unobtrusively. That isn't something that a PC could ever do. So if Microsoft wants to have skin in this game it needs to think bigger than just adding new lock screen functionality.


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.