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Microsoft's Hohm is a web application which aims to help users track and cut their power costs. The app looks to contend with Google's PowerMeter.  (Source: Microsoft)
Plug yourself into Microsoft

Microsoft wants you to plug yourself into its new technology.  Debuting today is Microsoft's new Hohm beta, which promises to provide homeowners with means to manage and track power usage in their homes.  The tool is a public beta so it's free for anyone to sign up for and try.

Power bills comprise a major expense for many homeowners.  For owners of small properties such as condominiums, U.S. power bills can be as little as $100 or less a month.  For owners of larger homes, power bills can soar to over $300 or more a month, though.  Power has variable costs, so if homeowners were able to run power-hungry appliances during lulls when power was cheaper, it would both ease stress on the aging power grid and cut their bills substantially.

This is the aim of new power meter technology from Microsoft, which will compete with Google's PowerMeter, the first such solution to hit the market.  Currently, the system does not physically connect to your power meter or appliances -- rather it takes in input such as your power bills and home information and uses it to generate suggestions.

The project is still in its infancy.  Explains Michaeljon Miller, software architect for Microsoft Hohm, "The team's been sitting in a conference room on campus since about 5:30 this morning watching things spin up. Considering this is the first major web application that most of the team has shipped, things went extremely well."

With Google already partnering with power meter manufacturers and utilities and beginning to deploy smart meters, don't expect Microsoft to wait long before taking the project up another notch.  The project currently is only available in the U.S.

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Another MS copycat scheme
By phatboye on 7/7/2009 12:47:07 PM , Rating: 1
If ms wants to grow they need to innovate and stop playing copycat as it is really getting old. I've yet to see ms bring any new ideas to the market in quite a while rather they thing they can copy someone else's idea and use their large reserve of cash to outspend the competitors. While they are constantly doing well in most of the markets that they enter they are always playing runner up to the competition. MS needs to get rid of their tired management and bring new blood to the table. New blood with fresh ideas who can bring ms back to the forefront of innovation instead of just constantly copycatting others ideas, throwing large amounts of money at such project in the end only to become number 2 in the market.

RE: Another MS copycat scheme
By Smilin on 7/7/2009 2:13:31 PM , Rating: 3
I think the "copy cat" concept is really a myth. MS just doesn't get a lot of credit for the innovations they produce. They are #1 in a lot of markets and it's the competitors playing catchup. Take a look at unified communications for example. They are crushing Cisco and IBM.

In this case MS has clearly been working on this since before Google announced anything so "copy cat" doesn't really apply. Google may or may not have beat them to the punch but do you want to bet which one comes out of beta first?

Keep in mind also that Microsoft has a good (not perfect) track record of entering and existing marketplace and out innovating the existing players. Word is an example. XBox is another.

RE: Another MS copycat scheme
By Shmak on 7/8/2009 5:38:14 PM , Rating: 1
Microsoft's innovation is a myth. When one hears the word innovation, one does not immediately make the jump to your chosen field of "unified communications" whatever that is. What one does think is perhaps of how MS "borrowed" from Apple's OS way back. Or perhaps how they "improved" Vista to "protect" your media from you.

It is pretty clear that the company does not innovate, it "leverages," using its vast resources to dominate a promising market as the poster above stated. Funny you mention the Xbox, as there is nothing innovative about it from the standpoint of the gamer. It is average. The Wii is clearly innovative. Even the PS3 is pushing new technology with Blueray. The success of the Xbox is due to the leverage Direct X has on the developer community, nothing more.

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