Microsoft and Hardware Community Announce OnNow Initiative…

Microsoft PressPass – Microsoft and Hardware Community Announce OnNow Initiative For Instantly Available PCs

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 1, 1996 — Microsoft Corp. and key computer hardware companies today announced support for OnNow, a broad industry initiative to create PCs and peripherals that are instantly ready to operate at all times. OnNow PCs will turn on instantly like VCRs or TVs, without rebooting, and will respond automatically to incoming faxes, voice mail and e-mail even when they appear to be turned off. OnNow will be supported in future releases of the Microsoft® Windows® 95 and Windows NT®
operating systems.

Major companies announcing support for OnNow include Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., Phoenix Technologies Ltd. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. The OnNow initiative is a result of requests from PC manufacturers for a systemwide approach to power management. The OnNow architecture was shaped by the hardware industry at an open design preview held at Microsoft in December.

OnNow improves upon current PC power management systems by enabling the operating system to play a central role. Software applications and every hardware device can participate in power management, and OnNow delivers a standard way to implement power management across all PC platforms.

“Users are demanding that PCs become more convenient to access and use in the home and the office,”
said Jim Allchin, senior vice president of the desktop and business systems division at Microsoft.
“They want their PC to be instantly available to answer the phone, display new e-mail, browse the Internet or run an application. Consumers don’t want devices that take a long time to warm up or that use unnecessary energy. OnNow is a major step forward in advancing the PC platform to a new level of usability by integrating the hardware, operating system and applications, so the entire platform operates the way consumers expect.”

OnNow is designed for a broad range of PCs, not just the notebook computers for which current power management systems are designed. Current power management extends notebook battery life through hardware- and BIOS-specific power management, but it can lack coordination with the operating system and applications. Without using information from these other parts of the PC platform, current power management systems can’t operate at maximum effectiveness. Unlike with current power management, OnNow allows for power control of individual devices in a PC.

Because current power management is designed primarily for notebook PCs, applications developers have been slow to use their features in mainstream applications. With OnNow, developers can write one application for both notebooks and desktop PCs and exploit the power management features provided. Consumers will also benefit by having a common application feature set for both notebook and desktop PCs.

OnNow is a key component of Microsoft’s Simply Interactive PC (SIPC) framework for PCs that are as simple and convenient to use as home appliances. The OnNow initiative and SIPC framework were announced to hardware engineers and executives here on the opening day of the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 96 (WinHEC 96). OnNow is based in part on the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) open specification also announced today by Microsoft, Intel and Toshiba. An industry review draft of the proposed specification was released today. ACPI is a new interface to the system board that enables both Windows NT and Windows 95 to implement operating system-directed power management on a broad array of PCs, including servers, business systems and consumer PCs.

OnNow Power Management Feature Summary

  • Common architecture and interfaces between Windows 95 and Windows NT. Now, there are common architecture and interfaces for power management for both Windows 95 and Windows NT. Moreover, ACPI-compliant systems enable identical hardware and drivers to be used for both Windows 95 and Windows NT.

  • The PC is ready for use immediately when the consumer presses the on button.

  • The PC will respond to wake-up events , such as faxes, e-mail or user requests to browse the Internet, even when it appears to be off. In its
    “apparent off”
    state, the machine consumes little energy but will respond to external events.

  • Application software will adjust its behavior when the PC’s power state changes. The operating system and applications will work together intelligently to operate the machine in accord with the consumer’s needs and expectations, and to deliver effective power management. For example, applications will proactively participate with the operating system and hardware in shutting down the machine to conserve energy.

  • All devices installed in the machine or added by the consumer will participate in the power management system , unlike current power management plans that exclude new peripheral devices. The OnNow system can change the power state of any conforming device. For instance, a peripheral such as a modem or CD-ROM will be turned off when the device is not in use by the application.

OnNow Design Initiative Architecture Summary

  • Enhanced core operating system functionality for power management. In the OnNow architecture, the operating system can direct power management by coordinating activities at all levels and defining the power-state transitions for the overall system. Microsoft plans to enhance future versions of the Windows®
    operating system with this capability.

  • A device driver model for power management that supports per-device power management. To meet these needs, Microsoft today also announced the Win32®
    Driver Model, a unified driver model for Windows 95 and Windows NT.

  • A new system board interface for power management that implements operating system-directed power management and enables per-device power management of devices on the system board. Intel, Microsoft and Toshiba designed ACPI to meet these needs.

  • Enhanced device and bus hardware power management capabilities. The OnNow initiative provides a framework for establishing power management interfaces and power-state definitions in bus and device hardware.

  • An application architecture that integrates applications into power management by improving the flow of control and information through the application interface. For instance, a presentation application can request the display to remain on even though the machine is otherwise idle.

Additional information about the OnNow Design Initiative is available on the Microsoft Web site at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and Win 32 are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

HP and Vectra are registered trademarks of Hewlett-Packard Co.

Intel is a registered trademark of Intel Corp.

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