April 17, 2001, 2:19 PM — The desktop division of Microsoft has temporarily pulled support for Bluetooth short-range wireless devices from the next version of its Windows operating system, citing a lack of hardware to test on and a long rollout schedule. However, the company's Pocket PC division continues to embrace the technology.
Analysts said Microsoft's decision reflects the realities of Bluetooth, which was hyped last year as the next big thing but began shipping in quantity only this year.
Bluetooth uses low-power wireless technology operating in the 2.4-GHz band to connect personal digital assistants such as Palm devices and Pocket PCs to cellular phones and as a replacement for printer cables in desktop computers. "There is just not sufficient quantities of production quality hardware yet," a Microsoft spokesman said.
He said this doesn't mean that Microsoft, one of the leaders of the industry consortium developing Bluetooth, has given up on the technology. The company will consider adding support for Bluetooth as production of the devices ramps up. Third-party software developers will also produce drivers to tie Bluetooth devices into Windows XP, the spokesman added.
A manager in Microsoft's Pocket PC division said he believes Bluetooth can provide real utility for mobile users as a cable replacement but that Bluetooth isn't quite ready for prime time.
"Bluetooth is real, but I don't think [the rollout] will be smooth sailing," said Douglas Dedo, group product manager at Microsoft's mobile devices division. Dedo said he doesn't expect to see widespread proliferation of Bluetooth devices until next year.
Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., said Microsoft's decision not to support Bluetooth in XP reflects the realities of the marketplace. "There's lack of standardization and products," he said. "I don't see widespread Bluetooth use for another two years."