Microsoft Sheds Light on eHome

Today's guest at the bi-weekly Silicon Valley Speaker series is expected to clearly define the vision behind Microsoft's fledging eHome Division – although nothing major will be announced. Vice President Mike Toutonghi, who began speaking at the event at 12 PM PST, heads up the company's effort to provide customers with the same degree of gadgetry as found in Bill Gates's 60 million dollar home.

Technologies developed by the eHome group represent an extended vision of technologies aimed to improve quality of life. Upcoming products revolve around experiences with digital media and home audio. These include a system to download movies from the Internet to be played on TV sets, and intelligent searches for audio tracks and radio stations based upon personal tastes. The Microsoft Home is included within the division and is an ever changing prototype of what the group hopes to achieve.

Samsung has been tapped as an early partner in developing Windows powered products for the home. The status of this collaboration is unknown, however the companies pledged to develop and cross market a new breed of hardware and software products. A come to market date has been set for sometime next year – without further explanation.

The group is composed of an all star team of Microsoft engineers who were directly involved in major undertakings such as the .NET Platform, Windows 95, and Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0. Team members include Joe Belfiore -- who spearheaded design for the Windows user interface –- as well as Kevin Eagan, and Harish Naidu. eHome was founded in March of 2001.

According to a company spokeperson, "This new business division was recently formed with the mission of extending the PC's capabilities to deliver exciting yet simple and affordable experiences to everyday consumers throughout their homes. The division is working to better understand how consumers want to use technology in the home for entertainment, communication, and control, with the emphasis on making the technology simple to use."

Additionally, the eHome group is governed by the two following principles: developing new technologies that enable consumers to easily enjoy personalized whole-home entertainment, communications and control experiences in ways that enrich and simplify their home environment; and providing a framework for devices that consumers use today and in the future, to work together seamlessly and better as a whole, to simplify new digital technologies and make them easily accessible to more people in more places throughout their lives.

Upcoming devices launched by the new division will complement Microsoft's foray into the living room which includes WebTV, canceled Web appliances, software for set top boxes, and more recently, its Xbox game console. Despites these efforts to obtain market saturation, Linux powered devices loom in the distance as potential alternatives to Redmond's best.

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