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Microsoft's eHome out of the closet

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Microsoft came out of the closet yesterday on its eHome strategy with a talk from Mike Toutonghi, the man in charge. The title of the presentation, "Thinking outside the box: distributing the power of the PC throughout the home", tells you most of what you need to know.

Your Windows-powered PC will deliver entertainment the way you want it, work as a unified communications centre and make it all available in a convenient, easy-to-manage way.

Toutonghi says the unit is focusing on creating partnerships with various home appliance and PC makers, as well as working to create industry standards, manage digital rights and more. Presumably, it will also work on finding ways to tie together its other home-targeted products (Xbox, Microsoft TV, etc.).

Although the eHome unit was assembled last February, Microsoft has not said much about it, bar a deal brokered in October with Samsung, where the two companies agreed to co-operate on some home/entertainment appliances. Samsung will make the hardware bits and Microsoft will contribute its Media Player and "eHome technologies".

Microsoft anticipates future homes being wired together and sharing information in ways not yet seen outside of Gates' house. Everything will be networked, PCs will talk to stereos, appliances will be used for home control systems and Windows Media Player and WMA format will be popping up everywhere.

As yet, no actual eHome products, or timelines for products, have been revealed. The Samsung-MS alliance expects to produce a product sometime in 2002. ®

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