Microsoft Shutting Down Hohm Green-IT Initiative

Microsoft will shut down its Hohm initiative in May 2012. The service was designed to allow users to monitor and adjust their energy consumption.

Microsoft will discontinue its Hohm service May 31, 2012.

Microsoft originally launched Hohm in July 2009 as part of a larger green-IT initiative that included the company's Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX, which had been released that February. Code-named "Niagara," after the birthplace of modern electricity and one of Nikola Tesla's experiment sites, the platform was designed to run on any Web browser, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

Hohm took user input about energy choices and made recommendations about how to adjust energy use to save money. The analytics for the platform's calculations were licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. From its launch, Microsoft made a point of highlighting its partnerships with utility companies to allow their customers' energy-consumption information to be automatically uploaded to Hohm; four companies signed on at the outset.

Hohm asked the user for a postal code and email address, and then to fill out a home profile, answering questions such as, "What type of energy does your water heater use?" In return, Hohm offered a home-energy report with energy-savings recommendations ("Lower the temperature setting on your water heater") alongside an estimated cost breakdown.

"The feedback from customers and partners had remained encouraging throughout Microsoft Hohm's beta period," read a June 30 posting on Hohm's official blog. "However, due to the slow overall market adoption of the service, we are instead focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market."

In March 2010, Microsoft partnered with Ford to offer the Hohm platform as a cloud-based energy-management tool for owners of electric cars, performing functions such as reporting the most optimal time to plug in a vehicle for recharging. Evidently, that effort failed to draw the necessary amount of customers to Hohm.

However, the Hohm blog posting made it clear that Microsoft will continue to pursue green IT. "Together with our partners, we will continue to develop technologies that help people and organizations reduce their impact on the environment," it read.

In a bit of unintentional irony, Google is also closing Google PowerMeter, a project designed to help consumers track their daily home energy usage in real time from an iGoogle gadget. That service was launched in February 2009, and drew information from a home smart meter.

"We're pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service," Google's Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl wrote in a June 24 posting on The Official Google Blog.