Microsoft Ditches Smart Displays

Only about a year after the first "Smart Displays" shipped, Microsoft is dropping further development of software for the displays that connect wirelessly to a PC "After evaluating current market trends ... Microsoft is not at this time working on the next version of Smart Display technology," says Megan Kidd, a Microsoft product manager, in an e-mail response to questions. Microsoft and its hardware partners came to the decision to stop work on the Smart Display product in early December, she says.

The first Smart Displays started shipping in January last year after a short delay. The devices allow users to access their PC through a touch-screen display that can be carried about the home and that communicates with the PC using the 802.11b wireless networking standard, also known as Wi-Fi. ViewSonic and Philips Consumer Electronics, part of Koninklijke Philips Electronics, are among the vendors that have been selling Smart Displays. The Philips DesXscape 150DM is available online starting at about $1185, while ViewSonic's Airpanel V110p is listed for $799.

Potential Problems

Microsoft never perfected Windows CE for Smart Displays, the software that runs the devices. For example, the displays do not support concurrent log-on so one person could use the PC at the desk with a fixed monitor and another could carry the Smart Display and use the PC that way. Also, the devices lack processing power for streaming video. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates introduced the concept of Smart Displays, then code-named Mira, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2002. Availability of the devices was announced at CES in 2003. This year's CES starts Thursday.

News source: PCWorld

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