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Broadcom Wi-Fi chips get in Microsoft gear

The company announces that its processors based on the latest Wi-Fi standard are being used in networking equipment from Microsoft.

Broadcom announced Tuesday that its chips based on the latest Wi-Fi standard are being used in Microsoft's networking gear.

As previously reported, Broadcom's AirForce Wi-Fi chips based on the 802.11g standard are being used by Microsoft in its Wireless-G networking products. The networking gear began shipping in mid-September.

Microsoft is one of the market-share leaders in Wi-Fi gear shipments and sales, which gives Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom the chance to sell high volumes of its 802.11g chips. Microsoft held the No. 5 spot for Wi-Fi gear sales and shipments in September, though that's down from its No. 3 position at the beginning of the year, according to retail market tracker NPD Techworld.

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Microsoft can recover from that slip, according to NPD Techworld analyst Stephen Baker.

"With the 'g' products making up just 35.5 percent of Wi-Fi gear sales, Microsoft can make a comeback, especially when you consider they have strong distribution channels," said Baker.

Part of Microsoft's decline in market share can be attributed to its decision to hold off on 802.11g-based products until the standard was completed and approved by industry groups such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Wi-Fi Alliance. The IEEE completed the 802.11g standard in June, and the Wi-Fi Alliance began approving products shortly thereafter.

Competitors started shipping products using the draft specification of 802.11g, despite early interoperability problems. The risk paid off for manufacturers such as Linksys, as products using 802.11g have become popular with consumers and have taken over from products that use the 802.11b standard in terms of maintaining shipment momentum.

Wi-Fi networks let consumers wirelessly share resources, such as a broadband Internet connection, with other devices connected to the network. Networks using the 802.11g standard can transmit data at up to 54 megabits per second, while 802.11b-based networks theoretically top out at 11mbps. The average throughput speed of those networks is about half the maximum.