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Microsoft poised to build Bluetooth support into Windows

Serious revisions of Bluetooth steering group inevitable

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Notorious Bluetooth hold-out Microsoft seems to be poised to join the group, if the company's own job ads are to be believed. Microsoft is not, currently, either one of the five Bluetooth founder members or a member of the prodigiously large Bluetooth SIG, but Microsoft is, currently, recruiting staff in order to incorporate Bluetooth into its products. The company is currently looking for a group programme manager, a programme manager and a software design engineer to work on Bluetooth-related projects, and the latter vacancy notice reveals most about what the company is up to.

"The USB Software design Engineer, Microsoft Windows OS Base team owns core bluetooth (wireless) bus technology, architecture, and support for all Windows platforms." Responsibilities include "working with Intel and other IHVs/OEMs to provide smooth integration of bluetooth devices into our core product."

Integration is OK in this area, incidentally, because the Bluetooth mob actually wants Microsoft to build support into its products. From the sound of the above, Microsoft is not only ready to do so, but intends to provide base-level Bluetooth support across all of its platforms. The programme manager job's pretty interesting too. "Windows CE will soon be producing wired (USB/Serial) and wireless (CDMA/TDMA/Bluetooth) palm and cellphone devices which need us to provide the connectivity solutions for the future… devices including Palm-sized PCs, Auto PC, subnotebooks, and smart phones."

From that little lot we can presume that Bluetooth support is going to go into the various wireless devices Microsoft has been showing, that it'll go into CE, and that it will also go into Millennium, if that turns out to be the real consumer OS, or whatever Microsoft ships instead, if it doesn't. Some kind of merger between the Microsoft Web Companion, the NC-like MSN access device Microsoft showed in September, and Intel's projected Web tablet would also be a logical candidate for Bluetooth, as wireless could be used to allow the box to be carried around the home, while maintaining a constant connection.

Of course, if Microsoft isn't a Bluetooth supporter, none of this can happen. Which means that Microsoft is a Bluetooth supporter, and we'll get the announcement Real Soon Now. We can probably even guess at the form it will take. Microsoft's objections to the original Bluetooth operation were twofold. First of all it wasn't going to join if it couldn't be at the top table with Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba, and second it didn't like the IP arrangements.

Currently anything contributed to Bluetooth in the way of IP becomes part of the common pot, and this is not how Microsoft prefers to do business. We can therefore presume that Microsoft will join a leading group expanded from the original five, and that it may even have contrived to get the IP terms and conditions modified. The announcement clearly has to be soon. But there's one more clue - that reference to TDMA. That could mean an AT&T connection (another member for the steering group?), and is also probably a hint at a developing relationship between Ericsson and Microsoft, as Ericsson has bet heavily on TDMA in the US. ®

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