Windows XP gets Bluetooth support

Microsoft has released to manufacturers the software necessary to allow devices that support the short-range wireless technology...

Microsoft has released to manufacturers the software necessary to allow devices that support the short-range wireless technology Bluetooth to work with Windows XP-based PCs.

The software will allow device makers to use a consistent Bluetooth implementation when developing new products, said Charmaine Gravning, a product manager with Microsoft's Windows division. Devices that use the technology include handheld computers, mobile phones, keyboards, printers and mice.

"It gives these device manufacturers a standard to work from," Gravning said. Typically, manufacturers design their own Bluetooth software from scratch, which has created some incompatibility issues for the industry, she said.

The new support for the wireless technology in Windows XP could give Bluetooth, which some analysts believe has so far been slow to take off, a much-needed boost.

Microsoft said that its software could provide a catalyst for the entire industry. Citing industry research from IDC, the company said it expects revenue from Bluetooth-related products as diverse as the chips and memory used in devices to grow from $76.6m (£49.0m) in 2001 to $2.6bn (£1.7bn) in 2006. Widespread adoption will begin next year, the company predicted.

PC makers and device makers are expected to start shipping products with Microsoft's Bluetooth implementation in the next three to six months. Companies such as Ericsson and Hewlett-Packard have already built products based on the technology, Microsoft said.

Existing Windows XP users initially will not be able to download Microsoft's Bluetooth software as a standalone install, Gravning said. Instead, they will have to get it from new products released with the software.

Microsoft's support for Bluetooth adds to the pool of hardware and software makers that have already backed the technology. Apple Computer added Bluetooth support to Mac OS X in August. Apple promises to allow users to make use of the support to synchronise calendar information between some mobile phones and Palm OS-based devices and Macs.

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