WinHEC: Microsoft Advances Support for Wireless Tech

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced a set of wireless hardware advances in his Thursday morning keynote address at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), while noting the progress his company has made with productivity, server and enterprise issues, consumer technologies, and the Trustworthy Computing initiative. Gates also demonstrated the next-generation 64-bit Itanium CPU, code-named McKinley, voice-over-IP features in Windows XP, and discussed the company's new Microsoft Consumer Experience Center, an on-campus facility for showing off home technologies that will hit the market within a year.

"Just a few years ago, the PC was a standalone device used simply for personal productivity," Gates said. "Today, its versatility is unmatched. It helps us learn, communicate, be entertained, run businesses and work smarter than ever. It's also becoming a command center for an increasing and dazzling array of smart devices."

Gates announced four new Mira hardware partners--Fujitsu, NEC, Toshiba, and Wistron-- each of which will ship primary or secondary displays based on the remote display technology. Mira displays connect to a desktop PC through 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless connections and Microsoft's Terminal Services technology. The first Mira displays will appear in time for the holiday 2002 buying season.

Gates also announced support for the Bluetooth wireless technology, which enables radio-like connections between devices that are within 30 feet of each other. The company will ship Bluetooth support for Windows XP this fall via a free download, I was told in a pre-keynote briefing, preceded by a Bluetooth SDK in May that will help hardware developers build Bluetooth-compatible devices for Windows XP. And Microsoft will ship its first Bluetooth-compatible devices, a wireless keyboard and mouse, in the fall.

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