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Windows 10 'Home Hub' Is Microsoft's Response To Amazon Echo and Google Home (mashable.com) 101

Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts. Mashable reports: Microsoft's smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC's screen is locked. The Home Hub is tied to Cortana and takes this a few steps further. It would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists. A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door. Multiple users (i.e. family members) could use the Home Hub, either by authenticating through Windows Hello or by working in a family-shared account. Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub; it could, for example, control smart home devices, such as lights and locks. And even though all of this will work on any Windows 10 device -- potentially making the PC the center of your smart home experience -- third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub. You can read Windows Central's massive report here. Do note that Home Hub is not official and individual features could change over time. The update is slated for 2017.
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Windows 10 'Home Hub' Is Microsoft's Response To Amazon Echo and Google Home

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  • Whether you like it or not!

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @08:22PM (#53429355) Journal
    Yes. You can turn on the sprinkler system without a valve, a time clock or even the effort of a button push.

    Those old ways were completely exhausting.

    • Not exhausting, expensive, and sometimes bad.

      I replaced my sprinkler system with a smart automated one after the second time I flooded the neighbour's yard due to forgetting to turn it off. It also paid for itself in not wasting water or killing plants that shouldn't have been submerged. Something doesn't need to be exhausting to be replaced. How about smart thermostats that turn the heating off when they know you're not home? How about lights that you can turn on anywhere preventing you from either rolling

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      I thought the Echo Dot would be a fun thing to play with so I got them whilst they were cheap during Black Friday fortnight or however long they've managed to drag it out for now. I read that you can even order food through apps like Just Eat, but when I first used it I didn't really know you had to ask specific Just Eat commands.

      So imagine how disturbed I was when I said "Alexa, I'd like to order some food", and she replied "From your order history, I can see that you have ordered 12kg Dog Food. Is this wh

      • Black Friday fortnight

        Right! And since they're clearly going to drag it out with Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Trade Tuesday, and Black Friday fortnight, could the stores just stay closed on Thanksgiving so retail employees could relax one final day with their families?

        • by Xest ( 935314 )

          Is there any statutory legal obligation to credit public holidays like Thanksgiving as leave for those who are made to work it in the US?

          My wife works in retail and runs a few stores, and the only day they don't open now is Christmas day, however all 7 other UK public holidays are added to their leave so in some ways it works out for her as she can combine them all for an extra full week. Means she has something like 34 days leave a year now.

          • Is there any statutory legal obligation to credit public holidays like Thanksgiving as leave for those who are made to work it in the US?

            No. In fact, though employers may grant some number of holidays as paid each year, it is not required by US federal law.

            My wife works in retail and runs a few stores, and the only day they don't open now is Christmas day, however all 7 other UK public holidays are added to their leave so in some ways it works out for her as she can combine them all for an extra full week. Means she has something like 34 days leave a year now.

            American retail employees [bls.gov] typically receive minimal benefits and low pay, unless they are skilled commissioned salesmen or managers.

            Personal example: I worked at a jewelry store years ago. The low hourly wage was augmented by a small commission (1-2%), although I received decent wages from Black Friday through the end of December (35-45% of our annual sales were in those 5 weeks).

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @08:48PM (#53429507)

    Microsoft's smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC's screen is locked.

    Cortana. How do I break into this locked PC?

    • With poisontap [samy.pl]. You would know if you read /. more regularly, it was featured here two weeks ago.

      (Yes, I fully expect Cortana to eventually berate you for forgetting stuff. At least in its Jewish Mom setting)

  • Honestly (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2016 @09:01PM (#53429573)
    These devices are totally not going to be spying on you 24/7.
    • Re:Honestly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by youngone ( 975102 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @09:08PM (#53429609)
      I wouldn't be worried about this anyway. Microsoft are just going through the motions with this.

      Amazon and Google have put a bit of thought it, even if the idea is totally creepy if you really think about it, but Microsoft have just panicked (as they do) and announced a thing which won't work properly and no-one wants.

      Actually, as I wrote that the thought came to me that maybe it's someone at Microsoft who remembers the days when if Microsoft announced their version of something that another company had already produced, the other companies' product died completely.

      I mean those days are long gone, but it's a thought.

    • Relax. This is MS. It won't work anyway.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @09:02PM (#53429581)

    Do people have no concept of privacy anymore? It's bad enough my DVD player wants my wifi password and my TV wants to be "smart" e.g. piping my conversations out ot the internet, but now people are actually BUYING devices solely for the purpose of eavesdropping?

    Years back the government withdrew the concept of Total Information Awareness. Really, all they did was figure out a surreptitious way to accomplish the same thing.

    • It's bad enough my DVD player wants my wifi password and my TV wants to be

      What sort of slashdotter doesn't have multiple VLANs and SSIDs? Route that through a VPN.

      • What sort of slashdotter doesn't have multiple VLANs and SSIDs? Route that through a VPN.

        I own a VLAN-capable switch, but its power budget is greater than that of my entire home networking equipment stack including a NAS and now an emby server, since it's all ARM-based and the disks spin down when not in use, which is usually.

    • The thing is, people may feel a little invaded at the beginning, but then, when they see that giving up their information eases their lives to some extent, they're willing to do it without remorse forever. Apparently receiving alerts about the flights you have to take or traffic jams ahead or turning you lights off from your bed are worth your most personal information.
      As for the government, I'd say they're satisfied with that. Now others are collecting that information for them.

    • BUYING devices solely for the purpose of eavesdropping?

      No. People are buying devices to make their life better. People are requesting perfect knowledge of their working lives by their digital assistant. People expect a huge amount of accuracy to their digital assistants that can only be met with huge databases in the background.

      People have been wanting this for 20 years and have been fetishising it in sci-fi for 30 years on top of that. Now it's here a few Slashdot users freak out that the technology is driven by a company and requires data to be sent offsite,

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @09:04PM (#53429593) Journal

    ...what could possibly go wrong?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hi, it appears you are having trouble sleeping. Would you like me to play calming thunderstorm sounds to help you sleep?

    Hi, it appears you are trying to find something to watch on television. Would you like me to make suggestions based on your browsing history?

    Hi, it appears you have ran out of shampoo. Would you like me to place an order while you are drying off?

    Hi, it appears you are trying to disconnect me. Would you like to discuss your problems while waiting for a Certified Microsoft Reeducation En

  • Haven't tried the Google one, but the Echo is garbage and no one really uses one. What a disaster and money pit for Amazon investors.
    • Such a money pit that they released 2 more versions.

      And Amazon Stock seems to be doing just fine (Echo released Nov 14) [yahoo.com]

      It's not quite Majel Barrett but it's a half decent beta.

      no one really uses one

      That means you'd have to show data that shows how many have been purchased and the number actually in use. We'll be waiting.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        You guys should really get more easily distinguishable UIDs. 110010001000 does nothing but troll, while 0100010001010011 seems innocuous enough.

        I'll stick with 1001001 myself (possibly the most clever Rush lyric).

      • Microsoft issued 10 versions of the Windows PocketPC OS. And how many versions of the Surface? And Windows Phone OS? Issuing multiple releases soon after each other is a sign that you are failing and trying to add shit to the product to see what sticks.
    • I don't understand your position here. You seem to troll every thread on the subject of voice activated assistants in order to slag off the Echo, but you're spouting nonsense.

      You frequently claim that 'no one really uses one', but that simply isn't the case. Or perhaps it is, if you mean that 'anyone who uses one often goes on to buy a second'. I have 2 in the house, and they're great. My wife uses them more than I do, but they are a fantastic convenience factor. Not necessary for anything, but handy for do

  • So does anyone use Siri on a regular basis? I have yet to see anyone use it for anything besides seeing if it works.

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
      I used to use it quite a bit while driving but it seems to have gotten worse in the last year or so at picking the correct contact or response. I use Alexa all the time though. Control lights, TV, thermostat, play music (the original one is a decent bluetooth speaker), audiobooks, check news and weather while I'm getting ready in the morning. When I travel I use the app to remotely start audiobooks playing full blast so it sounds like someone is home.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      My 12 year old loves it and if given the opportunity with mine or my wife's phone, he will use it relentlessly.

      I never use it except in the car to make it dial telephone numbers. When I've tried using it even for basic tasks, it gives me not-quite-useful information or just returns some web search.

  • Seriously though, I've always wanted the Star Trek experience of being able to ask "Computer" a question or to perform a task but the reality of having an open mic in my house gives me pause.
  • Pick up the phone to use the phone. Pick up the pen and paper to write. The dog is your personnel assistant!
  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @10:06PM (#53429909)

    how do I permanently disable it?

  • It doesn't matter what * expands to, Microsoft's price inevitably ends up being too high Microsoft can fill in the blanks with hard AI or FTL and I'd still give it back to them unopened. Or, rather, since they prefer to shove everything down your throat now, regurgitated back up as soon as I can rest control back and left in a burning paper bag on their front doorstep.

    No thank-you.

  • Users want a voice assistant when they are in living room, far away from the PC. Just like when iPhone was released, Microsoft has no clue that users might want to do something other than editing documents for printing on a desktop.

  • home hub is updating place try your request at a later time

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I asked Cortana "What's the weather" yesterday just to try it out. It proceeds to give me the definition of the word "weather." Honestly, it's the most useless horseshit response I have ever had from a search.

  • "Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts."

    No it's not. Based on Microsoft's track record it will be a poorly-designed, late-to-market, barely functional piece of shit that will garner no market share except for that of the die-hard Windows fanbois. After a year or two of disappointing reviews and craptastic software updates they'll discontinue it.

    Once again the w

    • "Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts."

      No it's not. Based on Microsoft's track record it will be a poorly-designed, late-to-market, barely functional piece of shit that will garner no market share except for that of the die-hard Windows fanbois. After a year or two of disappointing reviews and craptastic software updates they'll discontinue it.

      That may well be true...but there's a one-in-a-billion chance that Microsoft will be able to make it stick if they can successfully court the XDA community. If a device is mod-friendly, and it becomes "the Echo you can mod", it's possible that it'll carve out a niche for itself...because both Google and Amazon have taken steps to ensure that the modding community isn't welcome.

      Microsoft clearly has no recent evidence of this path, which is why I'm perfectly aware that it's such a remote possibility. However

      • That may well be true...but there's a one-in-a-billion chance

        Sure, but the odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292 million, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

        -

        If a device is mod-friendly, and it becomes "the Echo you can mod", it's possible that it'll carve out a niche for itself..

        Yes, I forgot how "mod-friendly" Microsoft has always been to the hacking/modding community. :)

  • Microsoft has shown over and over that they propose things and then deliver less than 5% of what they propose.
    If you know the politics within Microsoft you would know that a feature like this would never be allowed.

  • by duguk ( 589689 ) <dug @ f r a g.co.uk> on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @07:53AM (#53431649) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, that name will be changing.

    BT (British Telecom) in the UK already make a Home Hub [wikipedia.org].

    Also "Home Hub" is allegedly already trademarked by Apple [appleinsider.com].
  • Here, have a microphone connected to the Internet and Microsoft servers enabled in your house 24/7/365, listening to every sound and voice in your house! What could POSSIBLY be wrong with that!?

    No, NO, NO, just NO!

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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