Some Highlights from WinHEC

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates took the stage at WinHEC on Thursday, announcing support for Bluetooth wireless networking technology and demonstrating technologies that he sees becoming pervasive in home networks.

Read more in an earlier post by Voodoo, here.

Bluetooth gets a boost

As earlier reported, Microsoft later this year plans to sell keyboards and mice that use Bluetooth technology to connect to PCs, Gates told the audience at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. The company will push Bluetooth software as well, releasing a development kit in May to help programmers support the technology and posting a download that will give Windows XP built-in Bluetooth abilities this fall. Microsoft also will sell a Bluetooth transceiver--the radio antenna that communicates with Bluetooth devices--that plugs into a PC's USB port.

Telephony and Media Advances

Gates demonstrated use of a PC to make and receive phone calls, with the PC taking actions based on caller ID that ordinary phones can't manage. In addition, he showed music playback, with 22 hours of music stored on a single CD that can be played in a car stereo, PC, home stereo or portable CD player.

Microsoft hopes the PC will take over phone capabilities, a step that's closer with the ability of Windows XP to initiate phone calls. The company envisions PCs placing calls by name, not number, and the ability to log and record calls through Microsoft's Outlook software. But the PC will have to work better if people routinely rely on it for phone use. "If you use your PC as an end point for voice, we need to improve the reliability and availability of the PC," said Mark Van Flandern, a lead program manager for Windows hardware platforms. And Gates said it's important that good microphones become a standard part of PCs.

Mira Takes Shape

One of those devices [that utilise Bluetooth] is Mira, a portable touch screen that relies on a wireless connection to a PC "base station" that stores files and connects to the Internet. Microsoft announced four new Mira partners Thursday: NEC, Toshiba, Fujitsu and Wistron all make the devices. Companies buy Wistron's hardware and then sell it under their own brand names. LG Electronics, Philips Electronics, ViewSonic and Wyse Technology previously announced they would sell Mira devices, and Tatung and Trigem have said they will build the devices for others to sell. Meanwhile, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic and Sotec will make their PCs act as Mira base stations, Microsoft said. Mira involves more than just touch screens. Gates demonstrated Mira technology in a set-top box that controls a television, for example.

News source: ZDnet

View: Gates: PC will rule home network

View: WinHEC: Brave New PC World

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