Microsoft Blog: Windows 8 to Support USB 3.0

Tuesday Aug 23rd 2011 by Stuart J. Johnston
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Microsoft says native USB 3.0 will be an integral part of Windows 8.

In a new post to its recently launched Building Windows 8 (B8) blog, Microsoft revealed how difficult supporting an emerging standard can be -- specifically Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0 -- in an emerging new operating system like Windows 8.

While Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said Windows 8 will support USB 3.0, the post also highlighted the amount of work that is and has been going into making a complete, and trouble free implementation of a very complex technology.

"With throughput up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and improved power management that results in longer battery life, USB 3.0 introduces compelling reasons to improve the world's most popular PC interface," Dennis Flanagan, director of program management for Microsoft's devices and networking group, said in a post to the blog.

"By 2015, all new PCs are expected to offer USB 3.0 ports, and over 2 billion new 'SuperSpeed' USB devices will be sold in that year alone," Flanagan added.

However, along with the surge of new USB 3.0 devices also comes the reality of billions of earlier existing USB devices that need to be compatible with the new specification as well.

"How do you write a single piece of software to enable the latest technology on evolving hardware, while making sure it still works with 10 billion existing devices in homes and offices across the world?" he said.

In order to get an early start, Microsoft built "virtual" USB 3.0 devices but, once real devices began to arrive, the company needed to develop an overall strategy to help deal with the plethora of devices.

One category included the devices and brands that were most popular, while another looked for commonalities in chipset usage, and a third identified which USB devices ended up high on the list of technical support calls.

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division, inaugurated the "Building Windows 8" blog last week. Meant as an information sharing platform for the various constituencies involved in Windows 8 development, it is similar to a blog called "Engineering Windows 7" that the company put to much the same use when it was developing Windows 7.

Microsoft is expected to present more details regarding USB 3.0 in Windows 8, along with preview code for the upcoming operating system, next month at the Build conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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