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Windows Rally and the first Vista Feature Pack

You may recall a while back that there was some confusion over something called the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless. The confusion was two-folder, First, one too many Windows bloggers had never even heard of Windows Feature Packs, even though Microsoft has been shipping them for over a decade. Second, you can't actually download the Feature Pack for Wireless unless you need it. And it was unclear why you would need it.

I think I've stumbled onto what it's all about.

I received an email this morning from a PR company representing Web2Storage, a company that will soon "enable Windows Vista users to remotely and securely access their home data from anywhere." The software is described as being similar to Apple's Time Capsule in terms of backup capabilities. It is being introduced publicly at the Windows Rally Summit at the Microsoft campus in early June.

The name Windows Rally sounded familiar, but I admit I had to look it up. Turns out, it's just the new name for Windows Connect Now. It's basically a way to seamlessly connect Windows PCs with media devices like set-top boxes, but also emerging classes of devices like electronic picture frames, network-attached storage, IP streaming video cameras, print servers, and even VoIP phones.

Info about the Windows Rally Summit, meanwhile, can be found here. (My guess is this event is happening now because WinHEC 2008 was delayed until late in the year.) Among the downloadable documentation on that page is a link to the agenda at the event, which includes a discussion by Microsoft program manager Yatharth Gupta about, yes, you guessed it, the Windows Feature Pack for Wireless. So this feature pack, clearly, is aimed at Windows Vista users who buy a next generation Windows Connect Now/Windows Rally device. That's why it's not widely available: Virtually no one needs it yet, and those that do will get the software in the box with whatever device.

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