Cortana takes the fight to Alexa with the Microsoft Home Hub

Until now, Microsoft has been relegated to bit player status in the emerging digital home assistant sector, with the lion's share of attention going to Amazon's Alexa software running on the Echo family of devices. Windows Central reports that Redmond is gearing up for a massive assault on the smart home market with a software feature called Home Hub that will be baked into future Windows 10 updates.

Windows Central says that Microsoft plans for Home Hub to have the same sort of voice command interface as Amazon's Echo, but will differentiate itself from Amazon and Google's offerings with the option to control functions using a device's screen. Unlike the Echo, Home Hub will run on existing hardware—namely, Windows 10 PCs. The operating system's Anniversary Update brought the ability to access Cortana directly from the device's lock screen. The Home Hub will leverage this ability, and Windows Central says additional features will be included in the Creators Update and the next two major updates thereafter.

Windows Central is emphatic that Home Hub is a set of software features, but goes on to theorize about devices from third-party vendors that would function like smaller home versions of Microsoft's Surface Hub. We can't help but think that integration with Xbox One integration will likely be a high priority for the company, given that console's presence in so many entertainment centers.

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