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Bluetooth demos flop at CeBit

MS' 'alpha' software makes wireless connections 'kaputt'

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Mobile computing and next generation phones were two of the technologies most at evidence at CeBit this year.

Any presentation or stand you cared to attend featured smart phones and the kinds of wireless technologies designed to take your breath away.

Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens were all at it and even Microsoft got into the act by showcasing prototype smart phones from Samsung based on its Stinger platform and Siemen's MultiMobile, a combination of handheld and mobile phone for the business market.

Unfortunately everything seemed to go pair shaped when anybody demonstrated Bluetooth short range radio networking technology. Maybe it's all something to do with the dank atmosphere in halls in the hangover convention centre where CeBit is staged.

Microsoft's attempts to link a Hewlett-Packard Jornada Pocket PC with an Ericsson phone using a Bluetooth connection floundered when it proved impossible to establish a networked connection. Elsewhere during the Hangover technology beanfeast, we understand that HP's own demo of Bluetooth was similarly rotten.

Now for all its slow entry into the marketplace, Bluetooth has been successfully demonstrated and, in fairness, even Microsoft managed to get a HP Jornada and printer talking together.

We had a chat to the Microsoft techies setting up their demo and they said that the Ericsson demo had worked before going on public display and blamed the failure during the presentation on "unstable drivers" on what was admitted to be alpha software.

Microsoft never really got infra-red connectivity to work with Windows so these troubles with Bluetooth (which MS has given belated backing for) sound horribly familiar.

If you've ever had trouble getting drivers for your printer, imagine what trouble you'll have when Bluetooth comes along. It looks like we'd all have to hang onto our connection cables for a while longer yet... ®

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