We reported earlier that the software foundations for Microsoft’s Home Hub have been spotted, showing that it would allow access to a Family Desktop above the Lock Screen featuring “a quick view of all the things your family uses every day like shared calendar, lists, music, and more.”
We then suggested that Microsoft would be building hardware to take advantage of the software in the form of a kitchen PC of some kind. We now have further evidence that a Home Hub device is on Microsoft’s Windows and Device Group product roadmap.
According to a LinkedIn post by a Microsoft Principal Hardware engineering manager similar products have been in development since 2014.
October 2014 – Present (2 years 2 months)
- Set up hardware team and testing lab, each team member is handpicked from previous NOKIA Beijing mobile phone development center, all of them are top level expert in different area include RF, baseband, audio, display/touch, camera, mechanical, EMC, battery and antenna.
- Together with software team in Beijing, Munich and Redmond developed 2 product concept, one is far field voice interactive smart home Hub, the other one is an IOT connectivity platform solution.
- Both product stopped after first round of prototype build because of re-organization, performance has been proven and key concept of smart Home Hub has been put into Microsoft Windows and Device Group product roadmap.
So it appears Microsoft Beijing was working on an Amazon Echo style device and another less clear “Internet Of Things connectivity platform solution.” After the Microsoft layoffs of ex-Nokia staff, the project was shelved, but the idea had already been proven viable in the prototype stage and has now been placed into the Microsoft Windows and Device Group product roadmap.
In Mandarin, he notes that “the first project concept and programs be included in the next major release of Microsoft product plans.” It is still not clear of we are talking off a speech-only device (as in the original Home Hub concept) or now a full kitchen computer with voice control as envisioned in many Microsoft Future of the Smart Home videos.
What is clear is that at least very recently, some new hardware is in the works, and given how accomplished Microsoft has become in this field, can only be good news for the brand.