All Computing, All the Time: Microsoft's Pervasive Computing Strategy

Microsoft recently rolled out new tools that support its vision ofend-to-end "pervasive computing," as well as new Web sites and anEmbedded Partners Program. The tools range from XML-based Windows CE 3.0 Add-OnPack to the HTK Hidden Markov Model Toolkit, a speech-recognition kit obtainedby Microsoft through the acquisition of Cambridge University's Entropicresearch lab in the United Kingdom.

The Windows CE add-on kit, Web sites, and Embedded Partners Program areall part of Microsoft's Embedded Ecosystem initiative, announced at theEmbedded Systems Conference (ESC) West conference Sept. 25. Later the sameweek, Microsoft joined with the Cambridge University Engineering Department tooffer a Web site dedicated to the latest version of HTK. The HTK3 site isspecifically designed for HTK redistribution and development support.

At a developers conference in the UK in late September, Microsoftofficials confirmed that XML will be the approach Microsoft will take for tyingtogether myriad types of mobile devices with server-based products like Windows2000, Exchange 2000, and Microsoft's new mobile server. Formerly code-namedAirstream, the mobile server was unveiled at the Enterprise 2000 rollout, alsoat the end of September.

Beyond the Windows CE-based PocketPC, Microsoft and its partners arecollaborating on software environments for two types of mobile phones. WithEricsson, Sony, Benefon, and Samsung, Microsoft is developing "featurephones," which will come with operating system-independent, dual-modembrowsers for either Wireless Markup Language or HTML display. Microsoft andSamsung are readying a large smartphone, code-named Stinger, for delivery ofricher applications with unified messaging, says Scott Gode, group productmanager at Microsoft.

Microsoft's Add-On Pack for Windows CE provides Platform Builder, a setof systems management tools and third-party extensibility SDKs, says DeanneHoppe, lead product manager at Microsoft.

The system analysis tools in the Windows CE 3.0 Add-On Pack include akernel tracker for graphically displaying the kernel's processes, threads, andsystem events, plus a remote system information and remote performance monitorfor Windows CE. The first SDKs for third-party Windows CE extensibility includehardware assist and remote tools connectivity.

The kit will also include an XML parser; new networking components, suchas Crypto API 2.0, for smart-card security; PPTP support for virtual privatenetworks; Remote Display Protocol 5.0 for browser-based access to Windows 2000terminal servers; and Internet Sharing, a protocol aimed at letting multipleWindows CE devices share a single Internet connection.

Microsoft has been positioning Windows CE as an environment beyond justPDAs, including other embedded environments such as automotive systems.

Microsoft's new Windows Embedded Partner Program, also announced at ESCWest, includes access to a partner extranet (www.mswep.com) for centralized accessto product, support, and event information.

Microsoft also rolled out a new Web site on the Microsoft DevelopersNetwork targeted at embedded developers. Offerings include biweekly featurearticles, chat sessions, training resources, and downloadable code.

The HTK software -- downloadable from the HTK3 site (http://htk.eng.cam.ac.uk) -- hasbeen used at Cambridge University to build large vocabulary speech recognitionsystem. Although Microsoft obtained HTK through last year's acquisition ofCambridge's Entropic lab, Microsoft licensed HTK back to the university and ishelping to distribute HTK over the Web.

While Microsoft retains the copyright to the existing HTK code,developers are "encouraged to make changes to the source code andcontribute them for inclusion in HTK3," company officials say.

Index:
Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., www.microsoft.com