Microsoft has some big plans for the small-sized storage devices.
Microsoft is working on turning USB-based flash drives into a “Windows companion” — a new product known as “StartKey” — that will allow users to carry their Windows and Windows Live settings with them.
StartKey isn’t just for USB sticks; it also will work on other flash-storage devices, like SD memory cards. Microsoft is looking to turn these intelligent storage devices portable “computing companions” for users in both developed and emerging markets, with availability (at least in beta form) likely before the end of this year, according to sources who asked not to be named.
Microsoft’s goal is to build an end-to-end StartKey environment — comprised of everything from system software on the flash devices, a software development kit to enable third-party developers to create products that can leverage StartKey, and accompany Microsoft applications and services, sources said.
StartKey has its roots in an agreement Microsoft forged with SanDisk in May 2007. Microsoft announced it would be providing unspecified software to replace the U3 Smart Technology that was included on SanDisk flash devices. U3’s technology enabled users to store files, applications and related settings on their USB sticks.
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