Microsoft snubs Bluetooth

InfoWorld |  Operating Systems

After dangling the promise of wireless support in front of developers, Microsoft Corp. has decided to wait for Bluetooth to grow up before supporting the wireless PAN (personal area network) solution in the company's Window's XP operating system.

The official line from the Redmond, Wash.-based company is that due to a lack of "sufficient quantities of production-quality Bluetooth hardware, Microsoft cannot estimate when or how [Bluetooth] will be supported in Windows."

It is no secret that Bluetooth remains in its developmental infancy, struggling with issues such as interoperability with other wireless devices. Losing the support of software giant Microsoft could stunt Bluetooth's development.

"It's a chicken-and-egg question. [Bluetooth] could be harder to roll out now, as [developers] won't have one point of support -- Microsoft. But Microsoft is also saying they don't see enough Bluetooth products on the market to test with and validate with," said Stacy Wu, an analyst at Mobile Insights, in Mountain View, Calif.

The news comes just weeks after Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the availability of a Beta 2 version of Windows XP at WinHEC 2001, the company's hardware developer's conference in Anaheim, Calif. Windows XP is Microsoft's planned upgrade path for all of its existing OSes, and support for wireless technology such as Bluetooth had been part of the XP hype.

Microsoft's decision leaves Bluetooth support in the hands of third party Bluetooth vendors.

"When technology [such as Bluetooth] is early, it doesn't get incorporated as a default utility in the OS. You have a third party vendor support that," Wu said, adding that Microsoft will also hold back XP OS support for early versions of USB 2.0.

One of those third party Bluetooth vendors, San Francisco-based Rappore Technologies Corp., is happy to pick up the torch.

"We can support and deploy Bluetooth right now," said Ken Ebert, a senior engineer at and co-founder of Rappore.

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