A devices locked screen will give users of Windows access through a software overlay to an always-on Cortana.
The Home Hub feature in Windows 10 is designed to make the PC the center of the home. It's reminiscent of Microsoft's strategy in the early 2000s, when servers in the home would act similar to cloud services of today.
As a software feature in the works even before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Windows Central describes Home Hub as software that includes some features such as Cortana, which becomes more accessible from the locked screen of a device.
Similar to Amazon Echo's Alexa and the Google Home assistant, Cortana will be listening from the Welcome Screen, gaining insight from ambient voice signals even before the person using the device provides a "wake-word," such as "Hey Cortana."
While a low-cost Surface could support virtual assistant and smart-home management functions, Microsoft will likely launch a partner network allowing third-party original equipment manufacturers to build hardware dedicated devices. The reports puts Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard in talks with Microsoft to bring touch-enabled AiOs with the Home Hub software to market in 2017.
The Microsoft Envisioning Center on the company's main campus in Redmond demonstrates some of the capabilities reports describes, such as using Cortana as the main interface.
Microsoft wants to make Home Hub and Windows 10 the central hub for all connected smart home devices such as lights, doors, and more, with the ability to connect them to mobile devices and automobiles.
Windows Central also cites sources that claim the Home Hub Welcome Screen will become one of the first user-interfaces to feature design elements from Project NEON, a design language for Windows 10 unveiled last week.