Microsoft gets into the home automation game with Insteon partnership

The tech giant's set to make its first foray into the smart home next month.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Ry Crist
2 min read

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Microsoft announced a partnership with Insteon today, along with some big plans to fully incorporate the popular home automation network into its ecosystem. Starting June 1, an enhanced version of the Insteon app with exclusive features will be made available for Windows Phone 8 devices, along with any tablet, laptop, or desktop running Windows 8.1 .

Plug in with the Insteon Starter Kit (pictures)

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In addition, it won't be long after that before you start seeing Insteon products lining Microsoft Store shelves. These include individual products like the Insteon LED Bulb , as well as complete smart-home packages consisting of the Insteon Hub and select peripheral devices, similar to the Insteon Starter Kit we reviewed last year. Devices will range in price from $30 to $80, with kits starting at $199.

Insteon's new app for Windows Phone 8 devices will launch in June with exclusive features. Josh Miller/CNET

Windows-exclusive features in the new version of Insteon's app will include complete Live Tile integration capable of offering status updates for multiple devices at once on the start screen of devices running Windows 8.1.

Insteon is also promising enhanced camera support that will allow users to view full-screen feeds, view multiple feeds at once, or use a camera without needing to install an Insteon Hub.


Insteon is also touting a new Visitor Mode that will provide restricted system access to children or guests, as well as an improved dashboard view and multihouse support, which will enable users to control multiple homes or businesses from a single account.

Though the Live Tile integration will obviously remain exclusive to Windows, Insteon's team tells us that they expect the rest of the new features to roll out to Android and iOS users at some point in the future -- though they wouldn't commit to a timeline.

Microsoft will begin selling Insteon devices and starter kits in-store by early July. Insteon

Developed in Irvine, California, Insteon is a fee-free home automation network that's long been popular with hobbyists. The Insteon network combines a wireless radio frequency with existing power line connections to create a fast, reliable, dual-band connection. Insteon's product line includes over 200 sensors, switches, cameras, and other devices capable of monitoring and automating things around the home.

Aside from its own product family, Insteon is also capable of controlling certain third-party devices. The most notable example is the Nest Learning Thermostat , which Google acquired for $3.2 billion back in January. Insteon uses backdoor integration to offer its users basic, unofficial control over the Nest.

Insteon tells us that its devices will be available for sale online at MicrosoftStore.com starting June 1, with a full in-store rollout, complete with educational demonstrations and displays, set to begin by early July.