Microsoft wants to get devices talking

The software giant plans a series of announcements at a hardware conference next week, including word on software designed to let Windows programs talk to digital devices through Web services.

Hoping to make the digital living room a bit less complicated, Microsoft plans next week to discuss a new method for Windows software to talk to various digital devices.

The software maker is devoting several discussion panels at its (WinHEC) in Seattle to outline its plans for a new programming interface to allow Windows software to talk to various devices using Web services. According to its conference agenda, the Web services for devices API (WSDAPI) builds on previous Web services standards such as the Web Service-Devices profile, and works within PC software and in embedded applications.

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Also, as previously reported, Microsoft plans next week to release an updated preview of Longhorn, the next major version of Windows, which is still in its early stages of development. Microsoft has said it will likely be early 2005 before a full beta version of the software is ready and the company has an internal goal of releasing the software by the middle of 2006. The software maker released the initial developer preview version of the software at a conference last fall.

Microsoft has also said it will give some indication about the type of systems that will work with Longhorn.

"We are going to provide some broad guidance to hardware manufacturers about the kind of systems that will be great Longhorn systems," Windows lead program manager Greg Sullivan said in an interview earlier this month.

WinHEC is the primary gathering place at which Microsoft sets out its goals for hardware makers. The company uses it as a chance to update hardware makers on its own road map, as well as a stage to push the industry in certain directions. Microsoft has used past conferences to stress the importance of writing good software drivers, among other things.

The conference runs Tuesday through Friday, with Chief Software Architect Bill Gates scheduled to give a keynote speech on Tuesday.