Four industry leaders have finished their work on the Mount Rainier specification, a project to make writing, deleting and rewriting data to a CD as simple as accessing a floppy disk.
Compaq, Sony, Microsoft and Philips came together in October last year to develop the specification for native support of CD-RW drives in PC operating systems. An official announcement is expected later this week.
"Mount Rainier offers drag and drop CD rewriting and on-the-fly formatting of the disc, making the CD the ideal floppy disk replacement," said Commercial Director Frank Simonis of Philips Optical Storage, which co-ordinated the Mount Rainier group.
The first drives supporting Mount Rainier will be on the market mid-2001. Microsoft, however, won't include Mount Rainier in the first release - expected in the second half of this year - of Windows XP, its new operating system for consumers and business users.
"Mount Rainier won't make it into the first version of Windows XP. We expect it to be offered shortly after the release in software updates," said Hans Driessen, spokesman for Philips Optical Storage.
The Mount Rainier specification is also designed for Linux.
Apple has shown strong interest incorporating Mount Rainier in its MacOS operating system too, said Simonis.
Adding native support for the drives takes away the need to install separate software, like hardware drivers and CD-burning programs, to make a CD writer work, a major obstacle for corporate adoption of CD writing, according to Philips.
"The burden of multi-vendor support will be taken away, as a single vendor will now also support the CD-RW drives. Also, staff will not need to be instructed on how to use special CD writing software," said Driessen.
In addition to the four core companies, close to forty others joined the group and are supporting quick adoption of Mount Rainier. Amongst the backers are Acer, Dell, Matsushita, and Plextor.