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Microsoft Unveils Plug and Play Project

Microsoft rolled out Wednesday a plan for a multivendor organization to define schemas for network devices. The so-called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) group will manage and facilitate UPnPdevelopment, said Phil Holden, Microsoft product manger. "As part of that, we will make available sample source of the UPnP implementation to different vendors to license at no cost," he said.

Microsoft, staunchly maintaining its commitment to open standards-based technology, promised to host the first meeting of this forum June 7 in Redmond, Wash. "The idea is if you want to connect some devices in your home, you should be able to without some manager. These devices -- WebTV, Web phone, a PC -- need to describe themselves and the resources that are available to them through a schema."

A website is set to go live Wednesday.

"From our standpoint, it is very much a cross-industry initiative," he said, including representatives of consumer electronics, PCs, peripherals, and service vendors.

Microsoft has been talking about UPnP for a while, and battle over standards is brewing with Sun Microsystems, which is pushing its own Jini model. "We are talking about standardizing at the protocol level, around protocols such as TCP/IP and HTTP, whereas as Jini is talking about standardizing at the API level," Holden said. "The difference is our stuff will work with any [operating system] and any language."

More than 50 vendors have signed on to the forum, including Sony, Casio Computer, 3Com, Diamond Multimedia Systems, Advanced Micro Devices, IBM, NEC, Quantum, and a couple of embedded developers who are integrating UPnP in chips, he said. "The UPnP solution is both [operating system]- and language-neutral," he said. "It doesn't even require Windows."

However, a goal is to incorporate the technology into Windows OSes this year, he said. "We will definitely see UPnP-enabled products this calendar year," he said. "The initial phase will happen this year. You will see this seamlessly connected to a broad range of devices with two or three years."


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