Microsoft has released 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 could give Bluetooth a much-needed boost, as it has been slow to take off so far, some analysts say. Catalyst
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 $76.6 million in 2001 to $2.6 billion in 2006. Widespread adoption will begin next year, it 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 will initially not be able to download Microsoft’s Bluetooth software as a stand-alone 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 added Bluetooth support to Mac OS X in August, and promises to allow users to make use of the support to do such tasks as synchronize calendar information between some mobile phones and Palm OS-based devices and Macs.