Microsoft Garners Support for Embedded Device OS

By Vikki Lipset

June 26, 2003

The software giant announced at the 802.11 Planet show in Boston that several network gateway manufacturers, silicon vendors and systems integrators will support its Windows CE .NET 4.2 operating system.

BOSTON -- Microsoft on Thursday announced that four networking equipment makers will use its Windows CE .NET 4.2 operating system in both wired and wireless gateways. Jawad Khaki talks about the Wi-Fi dream network at the 802.11 Planet Conference and Expo

The .NET platform includes a broad set of features to enable device manufacturers to rapidly build secure gateways, said Jawad Khaki, vice president of Windows Networking and Communications at Microsoft, during his keynote at the 802.11 Planet Conference and Expo here. Khaki said that AboCom Systems, Accton Technology, D-Link Systems and Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA will build gateways ranging from routers to multimedia gateways. The devices are expected to be available by the end of the year.

In addition, silicon vendors and systems integrators will support the operating system.

Specifically, chipmakers including Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), ARM, Conexant Systems, Intel, Marvell, NEC Electronics and Texas Instruments, are optimizing hardware for gateways based on the OS, while systems integrators Broadcom, Intrinsyc Software, Jungo and Synnex Information Technologies are also providing support.

Windows CE .NET 4.2 is the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's operating system for small footprint, embedded devices. The gateway configuration is a set of 350 components, including security and network protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and 802.1x; device setup and management support; and an Intuitive Network Gateway User Interface that allows enterprises and network operators to manage services at the gateway level.

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled its new Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PCs, which leverages .NET's support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to allow easier access to wireless local area networks (WLAN) and personal area networks (PAN). Devices using the new OS will be able to automatically detect and easily connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Khaki said that wireless gateways are part of the Wi-Fi dream network. "I want Wi-Fi everywhere. That's a good dream to have, but there are issues to work out."

The dream network is easy to deploy and use, and always available, Khaki said. "The dream network enables ubiquitous peer-to-peer computing that redefines how people communicate and collaborate." Unfortunately, he said, the dream "often turns out to be a nightmare."

To realize the dream, he said the Wi-Fi industry needs management solutions for the enterprise, easy to deploy home networking solutions and easy to locate public services.

Khaki illustrated the vision of the dream network with several demonstrations during his keynote. In one scenario, he used a wireless Pocket PC and a Web cam connected to a gateway. The setup, he said, could enable store managers to monitor a cashier line, doctors to take a coffee break but still keep an eye on their patients, or parents to check in on their children in daycare.

Other demonstrations included a peer-to-peer voice over IP session; real-time, multi-player wireless gaming using a Microsoft Xbox connected to a residential gateway; a home network with multiple devices and users wirelessly connected via a gateway; and simultaneous high-definition video streaming using a wireless gateway.

Khaki emphasized the need for the industry to adopt standards, and to ensure that Wi-Fi coexists peacefully with other wireless technologies. He pointed to recent products allowing Bluetooth and 802.11 to work together as a positive sign.

"It's wonderful that the FCC has opened up 2.4GHz so that we can all party on," he said, "but we need some etiquette. We can wait for the government to come in and regulate, or we as an industry can regulate ourselves."

He urged enterprise network managers to "go deploy, Wi-Fi is secure." He also issued a call to service providers: "Let's work on hotspots everywhere. Let's explore synergies with cellular networks; [the technologies] are complementary."



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