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Microsoft forecloses on Hohm

Microsoft has announced it will be discontinuing its Microsoft Hohm utility and energy usage monitoring service on May 31, 2012, although the service will continue to run until then. Launched in 2009, Hohm was an effort to enable consumers to more easily track and analyze their home electric, water, and energy usage patterns in order to save resources—and money!—and lead a greener lifestyle.

“The feedback from customers and partners has remained encouraging throughout Microsoft Hohm’s beta period,” Microsoft wrote in a blog posting. “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.”

The decision comes just days after Google announced it was shutting down its similar Google PowerMeter service, along with its more-ambitious Google Health online medical records service.

Both Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm offered consumers detailed analysis of their energy and utility usage: although some information and advice was available just by entering a home’s location, the services’ detailed analysis came from actually monitoring utility usage. Although the services’ information was usually quite detailed and accurate, industry watchers believe it wasn’t very compelling to homeowners because in many cases it wasn’t particularly revealing: it doesn’t take a genius to figure out a home loses a lot of heat from single-pane windows, or that a high-efficiency gas furnace might be a good idea. The services were also only embraced by a handful of utilities: most American consumers never had an opportunity to see them at their best.

Microsoft plans to continue operating Hohm through May 31, 2012; Google is turning off PowerMeter on September 16, 2011. Both companies say they’re looking at other ways to apply technology to help consumers and businesses adopt more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.