At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in San Francisco next week, Microsoft will unveil a Software Development Kit (SDK) in an effort to boost the deployment of its OnNow power management initiative, which until now has received only sluggish acceptance from hardware vendors.
Microsoft also hopes to make life easier for developers by distributing more builds of both Memphis, the successor to Windows 95, and Windows NT 5.0 throughout this year.
The software giant is responding to developers and hardware vendors who have said that they have been kept waiting for new versions of the Windows operating systems.
"Intel is shipping [its Universal Serial Bus] product now, but Microsoft doesn't have its drivers ready yet," says Steve Edelson, president of Shadow Systems, an industry consultancy in Massachusetts. "I don't understand why."
The additional builds will allow developers to develop systems that work in conjunction with Windows power management and define individual components such as the bus, CD-ROM, and CPU, said Phil Holden, product manager for Microsoft's personal business systems division.
The frequent build releases will also be more valuable to developers because Microsoft will not distribute any more OEM service releases for Windows 95 before Memphis debuts, Holden says.
OnNow, Microsoft's power management initiative, will be the main focus of the WinHEC conference. Microsoft plans to market the scalability of OnNow from laptop PCs to high-powered servers.
To that end, Microsoft will also announce specifications formulated to enable an OnNow foundation in seven new areas: audio, communications, display, input, PC cards, networking, and storage devices.
Other driver enhancements will include "human input" devices such as keyboards, mice, joysticks, and game pads via the Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface. Other devices that will gain support include still-image devices and scanners, video capture, and synchronized video for teleconferencing.
However, the new specifications may meet the same fate as the original OnNow initiatives proposed at WinHEC 96.
"How can we develop a USB product if we don't know the specs?" says one monitor vendor.
However, Microsoft has a different point of view.
"We can't write USB specs until we have some products to test them out on," says a Microsoft source.