27 September 2002 Software giant Microsoft has finally added support for the Bluetooth short-range networking protocol to its Windows XP operating system.
The move will greatly improve Bluetooth’s chances of becoming a mainstream technology, although the software is not expected to be available until December 2002 at the earliest.
The Bluetooth protocol enables different devices including PCs and printers to connect to each other wirelessly. It is also complimentary to the increasingly popular 802.11 wireless local area networking (WLAN) protocol.
But Microsoft’s support for Bluetooth has not always been clear. The company did not support Bluetooth in the first release of Windows XP in October 2001 – citing a lack of viable hardware and the instability of the protocol.
However, Microsoft later changed tack and said it would support Bluetooth as a wireless bus to complement existing bus technologies, such as the Universal Serial Bus (USB). Bluetooth support will be available for existing Windows XP users as a software download via Microsoft’s Automatic Update feature.
Other vendors have also announced support for Bluetooth. Systems giant Hewlett-Packard said it would sell its new DeskJet 450 printer with Bluetooth capabilities, in addition to its current Bluetooth-enabled iPaq handheld computers. Mobile device manufacturers Motorola and Sony Ericsson supply mobile phones with Bluetooth support.