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Microsoft moves into consumer markets with eHome

Microsoft is to launch eHome - a business unit charged with developing Web-enabled products aimed at consumers living in an Internet-connected home.

The announcement will be made at Microsoft's monthly Speakers Series event on 26 November and will be delivered by Mike Toutonghi, the newly named vice-president of its eHome division.

Microsoft has recently stepped up its efforts to extend its reach into the consumer electronics market. The company recently launched the Xbox video-game console, putting it at the centre of the video gaming market, which analysts expect to generate more than $11bn this year.

Microsoft has also built up its Microsoft TV division, developing a series of set-top boxes for accessing its WebTV platform and interactive programming. The company also builds operating systems to power smart mobile phones, handheld computers and other computing devices that run embedded operating systems, such as those used in cars and appliances.

In the market for digital entertainment software, Microsoft's Windows Media Player competes in the slowly emerging market for digital music and video with companies such as Real Networks. Microsoft has its own Windows Media file format and digital rights management technology for delivering music and video via the Web.

Toutonghi will head a division created to pull together pieces from all of Microsoft's groups that deliver products and services to the home.

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