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Microsoft officially joins Bluetooth alliance

With 3Com, Lucent and Motorola in tow. Why's Motorola always late for these things?

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Microsoft has finally come out as a full-fledged supporter of Bluetooth, and as a top table member of an expanded Bluetooth steering group. Four new companies in all, Microsoft, 3Com, Lucent and Motorola, have been added to the original group of five founders, forming a new "Bluetooth Promoter Group." An announcement that Microsoft would join the wireless connectivity group has been expected for some time now, particularly as Microsoft accidentally tipped its hand by advertising for Bluetooth developers last month. (see story) Microsoft had previously been critical of the way the 1,200-strong Bluetooth SIG had been managed by the five founders, Intel, IBM, Ericsson, Nokia and Toshiba, but the company's new status among the leaders will have overcome this and any residual Not Invented Here prejudices. But although Microsoft's presence is a useful propaganda coup for Bluetooth, 3Com, Lucent and Motorola may turn out to be more important, from the point of view of added heft in telecommunications and networking. Bluetooth is intended as a cheap, ubiquitous connectivity system for all classes of electronic device, but early roadmaps called only for its appearance in headphones and as an IRDA-style cable replacement. Connectivity with, for example, home and office network systems was seen as being further down the road, and was dealt with a lot more vaguely, but the latest recruits can be expected to accelerate this somewhat. But overall, the new Promoter Group is going to have to get its act together. Bluetooth headsets and handsets have started to appear in demo form, but won't be shipping until next year, while despite some recent radical surgery the validation process won't be generating approved, interoperable products until the middle of next year. That probably constitutes at least six months slippage on the product roadmap - presumably the Bluetooth SIG will be trying to avoid having Microsoft bringing its own special, er, talents in this area to the party. ®

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