Microsoft forges ahead with new home-automation OS
In a handful of real homes, Microsoft is testing a prototype of a home-automation operating system on which its researchers have been working for several years.
Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
The HomeOS is a "PC-like abstraction" for in-home devices, like lights, TVs, surveillance cameras, gaming consoles, routers, printers, PCs, mobile phones and more. These devices appear to the HomeOS user as peripherals connected to a single PC.
The white paper never explicitly says that HomeOS is derived from or based on Windows. (There are other operating system research projects and incubations at Microsoft, including Singularity and Midori, neither of which is Windows-based, so it's not a given that HomeOS is Windows-derived.) But it was built using C# and the .Net Framework 4.0, the new white paper on the technology explained.
The core of HomeOS is described in the white paper as "a kernel that is agnostic to the devices to which it provides access, allowing easy incorporation of new devices and applications. The HomeOS itself "runs on a dedicated computer in the home (e.g., the gateway) and does not require any modifications to commodity devices," the paper added.
Microsoft has been testing HomeOS in 12 real homes over the past four to eight months, according to the latest updates. And 42 students have built new applications and added additional devices to support it, as well.
As is true with all Microsoft Research projects, there's no guarantee when and if HomeOS will be commercialized, or even be "adopted" by a Microsoft product group. The fact the Softies are sticking with this project and continuing to enhance it increases that likelihood, in my opinion however.