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Microsoft's next mobile OS goes Bluetooth

The software giant is pushing ahead with support for Bluetooth in Windows CE .Net, its next-generation operating system for mobile devices.

By Matthew Broersma

Microsoft's next-generation operating system for mobile devices has passed a crucial test for Bluetooth compatibility, the software giant said Tuesday.

The qualification of Windows CE .Net through the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) involves extensive testing with existing Bluetooth products, as well as examination of the software.

Bluetooth is a short-range radio technology that allows portable devices, such as personal digital assistants, cell phones and notebooks, to communicate within 30 feet of one another without wires. Windows CE .Net, code-named Talisker, will be the next release of the Windows CE operating system for mobile devices.

"Bluetooth will enable a broad range of new applications for mobile devices, and being qualified by the Bluetooth SIG helps assure (manufacturers) using Windows CE .Net that their devices will be interoperable with the wide range of other Bluetooth devices," Keith White, senior director of Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, said in a statement.

The drive to qualify Windows CE .Net for Bluetooth stands in contrast to Microsoft's less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward supporting Bluetooth in Windows XP, its newly released desktop OS. Bluetooth is not natively supported in Windows XP, making the process of installing such devices more complicated than it would otherwise be. People must either install software provided by the hardware manufacturer or download and install an operating system update when it becomes available.

Microsoft said earlier this year that there was not enough mature Bluetooth hardware to build finalized Windows XP drivers.

Microsoft also announced Tuesday that Siemens and Socket Communications are both creating Bluetooth products around the software built into Windows CE .Net.

Siemens, which makes mobile phone handsets, said it is developing products based on Windows CE .Net's Bluetooth software, with particular focus on cable replacement, dial-up networking connection to mobile phones, and Bluetooth connectivity to wireless LANs (local area networks).

Socket, which makes CompactFlash cards that can be attached to handheld computers, is also working on CE-based products, the company said.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.