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OnNow pieces in place

Microsoft announces a new power management spec called OnNow to make computers more user-friendly.

Microsoft (MSFT), in an announcement that marks a continued push to make PCs work more like televisions and other easy-to-use electronics devices, says the power management specifications for building the next generation of consumer and environmentally friendly computers is ready.

The OnNow specifications, announced at the WinHEC conference in San Francisco today, will allow PCs to turn on instantly, much like a VCR or TV.

Users currently have to wait several minutes after turning the power on as a computer loads its operating system. With the addition of new power management features, the computer won't actually turn off but will stay in a low-power consumption mode until needed.

Peripherals such as monitors, speakers, fax machines, and printers would also be able to turn on as needed. For instance, a computer in power saving mode would "wake" when a fax or call comes in.

OnNow features will save corporations and consumers money by reducing energy consumption and also benefit notebook computer users by extending battery life.

Microsoft says the availability of the specifications now will help hardware manufacturers such as Compaq (CPQ), Hewlett-Packard (HWP), and Toshiba design next-generation PCs and peripherals that can take advantage of these capabilities.

Such features won't be available, however, until the next version of Windows 95, code-named "Memphis," and Windows NT 5.0 arrive. The next revisions of the Windows operating system aren't expected to appear until late 1997 or early 1998.