Microsoft, Intel, and other companies will lay out their
hardware road maps for mobile computing, home networking, and digital imaging at this week's WinHEC show in Los Angeles.
The conference, which starts tomorrow, has in the past been used by Intel and Microsoft to lay out platform
strategies, such as the PCXX standard--which generally outlines the standard features for next year's computers--as well as other long-term
Last year, for example, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stressed the
importance of developing high-speed Internet access options and announced
that Windows 98 was to be the last DOS-based operating system, and that all
future consumer releases would be based on the NT kernel. This year, no
such formal predictions are expected.
In their place, industry groups such as the Mobile Advisory Council are
announcing proposals for long-term notebook design recommendations. MAC,
which is made up of notebook and peripheral makers like 3Com, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Texas
Instruments, and others, will announce several administrative
milestones, such as its new non-profit status and newly approved by-laws,
as well as several ongoing workgroup proposals, said co-chair Rebecca
Krull, of 3Com.
The group's top priorities are hammering down docking station
recommendations and completing a white paper on removing older port technology,
Krull said. MAC is also working on recommendations to software and hardware
vendors on improving battery life.
"Battery life is something that everyone complains about," she said. The
group is working closely with Intel and
Microsoft to develop
recommendations for software applications that use notebook chips more efficiently, prolonging battery life.
MAC and Microsoft are teaming up to hammer out these issues, Krull
said. "Microsoft is pleased with the progress of the Mobile Advisory
Council in advancing the mobile computing platform," said Carl Stork,
general manager of hardware strategy for Microsoft, in a statement. "We
look forward to collaborating with council members on important mobile
Pushing home networking
Microsoft is also expected to make announcements regarding home networking,
including news about its Universal Plug-N-Play technology, sources say.
Similar to Sun Microsystems' Jini,
Universal Plug-and-Play is designed to network individual devices.
"Home networking fits into the larger theme of advancing the platform,"
said a Microsoft spokesperson. The company will be pushing its
"spontaneous networking" concept, which "encompasses more than just home
Microsoft will be joined by partners like 3Com and Diamond Multimedia, who are expected
to support the new initiative which will be accompanied by a new Web site,
UPNP.org, sources say.
Many analysts are skeptical about the home network hype.
"Home networking is a technology in search of a market," said Rob Enderle,
an analyst with Giga Information
Group. "We're talking about people who can't get the 12:00 to stop
flashing on their VCRs and we expect them to drop this technology into
The home networking push is drawing many high-tech heavyweights. Intel is expected to roll out a line of such products at a different event tomorrow in San Mateo, California. (See related story.)
Additionally, Advanced Micro Devices will
also be supporting the Universal Plug-and-Play initiative,
demonstrating some of its home phone line networking products. AMD's director of the computation products group Fred Webber will also detail advances in the K-7 chip platform.
3Com will be demonstrating its new co-branded home networking
equipment, developed with Microsoft, which includes new phone line and
Security news a lock
Security issues are also expected to take center stage at WinHEC: Microsoft
president Steve Ballmer will also discuss PC security as it relates to
software piracy, a Microsoft pet cause. Ballmer will speak about digital
copyright management and entertainment content protection during his
keynote speech tomorrow.
Additionally, Intel vice president Pat Gelsinger will expound on the
company's platform road maps during his keynote speech. Gelsinger is also
expected to talk about new high-speed connections subsystems, improving
server performance, and the importance of PC security.
Finally, Microsoft and its partners are also expected to hype advances in
digital imaging-Microsoft's Stork
will devote time during his keynote to discussing growing demand for
digital imaging technology in the consumer market.