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Hohm ... Hohm ... Hohm

Ah, yes. Relaxing. The mantra-esque name of Microsoft’s latest green app, Hohm – which claims to save you money by giving you a better understanding of your home’s energy usage – combines with a simple layout and subdued green-and-orange motif to create a tranquil-looking website indeed.

I headed to the Hohm beta site skeptical about whether it would be user-friendly enough to actually deliver on its claims, but I was immediately disarmed; my first thought was, “this is nice.”

BUT – and isn’t there always a but with Microsoft (I should disclose I’m particularly perturbed at Microsoft right now because I recently “upgraded” to IE 8 and it’s giving me issues) – the nice wore off as soon as I began the signup process.

To use Hohm, you have to get a Windows Live ID, which means you have to fill out the typical form: name, e-mail, etc. It’s not too involved and wasn’t a hassle until the end, when it requires you to type in the jumbled, distorted numbers/letters you see in a box. You know, the Captcha thingy. Not a big deal, but in this instance I couldn’t read the damn symbols (Was it an “L”? A “T”? A “1”? I guess I’ll never truly know.) and I had to do another one. This one I could discern, so I keyed in the letters, but, just as I hit ‘Enter,’ the info form timed out. I had to go back and fill in the whole thing again. It’s little things like that that give those Mac ads resonance, even as smug as they are.

So what will Hohm turn out to be? The inviting, rewarding app it appears on first blush, or a frustratingly engineered tool of subtle torture? I plan to find out over the coming days.

Check back Friday, when I’ll report on how the full Hohm interface works.

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“Hohm ... Hohm ... Hohm”