Microsoft’s in a weird spot with Cortana. The company’s smart assistant is deployed on countless PCs, by way of Windows 10, but it’s constantly playing second fiddle to the likes of Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. That’s in no small part because that the company hasn’t done a great job moving beyond the desktop and laptop to devices where voice control makes a lot more sense.
We’ll no doubt see a much more focused push on that front next week at CES, but in the meantime, here’s a thermostat to hold you over. The company is getting a jump on the show by opening up pre-orders on GLAS, a thermostat designed by Johnson Controls, a 130-year-old HVAC company out of Ireland.
The smart home device is one of only a handful of non-Windows 10 PC products to feature Cortana, a list that most notably also includes Harman Kardon’s Invoke smart speaker. The assistant can be used for all of your standard home temperature related needs with controls like, say, “Hey Cortana, set the temperature to 68 degrees.” Like the Alexa-sporting Ecobee4, which was announced back in May, the thermostat also essentially doubles as a smart speaker-style product.
It’s another point in your home where you can communicate with the smart assistant. So you can ask your thermostat for sports scores and get it to add stuff to your calendar. Seems weird at first, sure, but this is really the direction we’re all moving in, anyway, right? And, of course, you can also do the inverse and access the thermostat through a mobile app on your iOS or Android phone — a Windows 10 app, oddly enough, is still listed as coming soon.
Honestly, it’s pretty nice looking, as far as thermostats go. Its got a nice, big translucent display showing off things like energy consumption and air quality — but all of the comes at a price of $319. That puts it well above rivals like Nest. Microsoft’s been talking up the product for a while now, but it’s finally available for pre-preorder and should start shipping in March.
Of course, for Microsoft, this is about a lot more than just one pricey thermostat — it’s about asserting Cortana as more than just a desktop assistant. So far, the company’s been lagging in both smart home products and mobile deployment, without a phone operating system to call its own. Don’t be surprised if we see a lot more on this front at CES next week.