Windows XP to support Bluetooth

Microsoft is to integrate support for Bluetooth wireless technology into Windows XP in the second half of 2002.

Microsoft is to integrate support for Bluetooth wireless technology into Windows XP in the second half of 2002.

Andy Glass, Microsoft's Bluetooth programme manager, said the company hoped to simplify both the development of Bluetooth devices and users' experience of the technology. To do this, Microsoft will use a subset of the many Bluetooth "profiles" now being used and developed for various applications of the technology.

Bluetooth is a low-power, short-distance technology for linking handheld devices, peripherals and PCs. Introduced some three years ago, the technology is beginning to be rolled out in products in high volume.

Microsoft's implementation in a desktop operating system has been widely anticipated by vendors hoping to find wide acceptance of Bluetooth in the market.

The Bluetooth software stack in XP will differ from those stacks now in use because it is focused on using Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate among devices. Using the same protocol deployed for other network technologies - rather than Bluetooth-specific approaches - will simplify development and users' experience of Bluetooth, Glass said.

However, by bypassing many existing profiles and being strict about its support of Bluetooth chipsets, Microsoft may cause some inconvenience for users. "We decided early on that we didn't want to be all things to all people," Glass said.

Microsoft wants the majority of Bluetooth interactions - such as links between PCs and peripherals - managed by the emerging personal area network (PAN) profile. Using IP, PAN lets a set of devices form an ad-hoc network in a small area, such as a desk or cubicle. XP will also support Bluetooth's device discovery profile to help PCs find new devices joining those PANs.

Also supported in XP will be the human interface device (HID) profile, for wireless connections between devices such as keyboards and mice.

The two protocols most widely in use today - one for cable replacement and another for dial-up networking over a wirelessly connected device such as a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone - will be supported as legacy protocols, Glass said.

The PAN and discovery profiles in XP will support IP Version 6 (IPv6), the next-generation of IP, not the current IPv4. Version 6 offers almost unlimited IP addresses, as well as built-in support for mobile IP networking and secure ad-hoc networks. The explosion of small, networked devices will create demand for many new IP addresses, said Glass.

The Bluetooth implementation in XP will go into a beta test in the first quarter of 2002. Glass invited developers to give demonstrations of Bluetooth devices using the XP stack at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in April.

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