Microsoft is going to make the Windows 10 PC a more family-focused device, taking on Amazon’s Echo and Google Home as it does, according to the latest reports and rumors about forthcoming features.
The story starts with Twitter user Walking Cat poking around preview builds and finding reference to a feature named Home Hub, which appears to take the multi-user features of Windows 10 in a new direction. In addition to individual per-user accounts on shared machines, Home Hub will enable a shared Family Account and Family Desktop. This account will have its own calendar, music, pictures, and other resources that are used by and shared between several different people.
Mary Jo Foley tied that discovery to job postings from November, where Microsoft outlined its desire to build family-oriented sharing features for Windows and its desire to compete with Google, Amazon, Apple, and AT&T
Sources speaking to Windows Central added a ton of extra meat to the Home Hub skeleton. While a little groundwork has been laid already (such as the ability to use Cortana from the lock screen, which was added in this summer’s Anniversary Update), the major Home Hub features will be shipping in updates codenamed Redstone 3 (late 2017) and Redstone 4 (2018).
According to Windows Central, the family account will act as a kind of hybrid. It will show any user the shared, family-wide stuff but authenticate in using Windows Hello biometrics (which, for facial recognition, requires nothing more than sitting down in front of the PC). The shared data will be extended to also show private calendars and data. Sign off and the private stuff will be hidden away, leaving only the shared data. This ability to create family-enabled apps with the split level of privacy and authentication will be offered to developers, too.
A new family welcome screen, showing appointments, sticky notes, to-do lists, and similar shared information will be included, so even a locked machine will become more useful.