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RealTime IT News

Bluetooth Gets Microsoft Thumbs-Up

Microsoft boss Bill Gates on Thurday announced his company would back the Bluetooth technology with the release of desktop peripherals using the wireless networking standard.

Delivering the keynote address at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2002, Gates said Microsoft would begin selling Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and mice later this year.

The Bluetooth-enabled mouse would use Microsoft's Optical Technology, which eliminates the mouse pad and runs on an advanced radio technology that delivers improved range and reliability over other short-range wireless technologies.

The company said it would continue to offer its existing wireless keyboard and mouse products -- operating on 27MHz technology -- as a lower-cost alternative to the Bluetooth products.

Gates, who demonstrated the device at the conference, said Microsoft's support of the Bluetooth technology goes along with its backing of other wireless technologies, including WiFi (802.11b).

While many argue that Bluetooth has lost ground to the popular Wi-Fi standard, the latest support from Microsoft is seen as a huge fillip.

"Just as the USB and Ethernet wired communications standards meet different needs, Microsoft intends to actively support Bluetooth and WLAN technologies within different product categories," the company said.

Once the PC peripherals are commercially available, Microsoft said consumers would be able to create personal area networks (PANs), which lets them wirelessly link Bluetooth-enabled portable devices and peripherals to computers by simply plugging in Microsoft's USB Bluetooth transceiver.

"The Microsoft Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse will work reliably as much as 30 feet away from the computer, eliminating the need for inconvenient and troublesome cables and wires. In addition, the transceiver will also act as a portal to the PC for up to seven Bluetooth-enabled devices, and seamless integration with Windows XP will make it easier than ever for consumers to connect additional peripherals to their computer," the company said.

Microsoft is among a slew of big-name tech companies in Bluetooth SIG, a group set up to promote and develop the technology. Others in the Bluetooth special interest group include 3Com Corp. , Agere Systems Inc. , , Ericsson , IBM Corp. , Intel Corp. , Motorola Inc. , Nokia and Toshiba Corp.