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Microsoft Build Conference set To Talk Up Windows 10 & Attach Gadgets

Microsoft, who had their hearts content on forcing over 1 billion people to upgrade to Windows 10, has only manage to convince 500 million people, which is not a shabby number, to press one of their annoying forced download announcements, that consumers are complaining about.

At the annual Microsoft Build developer conference Microsoft set to kick off tonight Microsoft is set to make several key announcements.

Their new Cortana Skills Kit will enable third-party developers to create new skills for Microsoft’s forthcoming smart speakers, Windows 10 PCs and the Cortana mobile app. Craftily, Microsoft is enabling devs to convert their existing Alexa Skills for the Windows platform.

Microsoft is also expected to release one more big Windows 10 update in 2017 (currently code-named Redstone 3 and due inthe third quarter of 2017, Endgaget said that this might be one of the most conspicuous changes to the OS since its original release.

The highlight would be a leaked interface design language nicknamed Project Neon. As Windows Central explains, it would add some visual spice to Windows 10’s relatively ho-hum look with more textures, lighting, animations and even app elements that “escape” their window borders.

Microsoft is also expected to talk up their Cortana-based Harman Kardon Invoke speaker and its capabilities in the home.

Users will be able to hear their forthcoming meetings, hotel and flight bookings and traffic updates.

Using third-party skills they’ll know if they need to leave earlier to fill up the car and will be able to book time off work and set an out of office. No news yet on the price or release date.

Intel and HP are also getting in on the smart speaker game and have committed to building their own Cortana-based devices.

Microsoft also wants all Windows 10 PCs to work as smart home hubs, according to a new report.

The software giant reportedly is working on a “HomeHub” feature for Windows 10 that will let PCs interact with and control smart home devices, as well as let families share access to calendars and apps, according to The Verge.

Microsoft is “tentatively planning” to support popular smart home vendors Philips Hue, Nest, Insteon, Wink and Samsung’s SmartThings according to The Verge. Users reportedly will be able to make voice commands using Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant, and The Verge said Microsoft has been working with PC makers like HP and Lenovo to create computers for the holidays that support the new home feature.

Another big change will be “a new welcome screen that includes an ‘always on’ digital corkboard to let families use to-do lists, calendars and notes,” The Verge said. It added that the welcome screen is designed for “kitchen PCs” (do people commonly have PCs specifically for their kitchens?), as well as newer, smaller devices with screens.

The report says Microsoft aims to include the new welcome screen and other features in a Windows 10 update in September.

The home has increasingly turned into a battleground for tech giants looking to sell you new, connected gadgets.

It’s part of an emerging area called the internet of things, which links together just about anything that plugs into an electrical outlet so the devices can communicate with one another. Amazon has led this area with its popular Echo speakers and its Alexa voice assistant. Google Home has become a close second, while Apple, Microsoft and others have lagged behind. Apple may introduce its Echo competitor at its developer conference next month.

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