Microsoft Makes Wireless Networking a Snap

REDMOND, Wash, July 11, 2002 — In a growing number of homes, waiting an eon for a Web page to download or putting up with constant interruptions in online music or video feeds are distant memories. High-speed connections, such as cable and DSL, have made speedy Web browsing a reality. The only problem: Everyone in the household ends up competing for time on the one computer with a high-speed connection, while other laptops and PCs go unused or become glorified word processors. Today, Microsoft announced plans to launch a line of products that will allow users to access high-speed connections and other conveniences on any PC almost anywhere in their home — or even their favorite coffee shop. This new line of wireless broadband networking products, which will hit store shelves later this year, will also allow users to share printers and files among their PCs.

Randy Ringer, general manager for the Microsoft Hardware Division

PressPass caught up Randy Ringer, general manager for the Microsoft Hardware Division, to talk about why Microsoft is entering this new space and how the company will help customers set up their wireless networks quickly and easily.

PressPass: Tell me a bit more about what you’re announcing today.

Randy Ringer: Today, we’re announcing that Microsoft plans to enter the wireless networking market. We will be bringing a line of Wi-Fi hardware products – ones that use the 802.11b wireless standard — to market later this year. These products will enable consumers to set up a wireless network quickly and easily so they can share their broadband Internet connections, files and printers with the other computers in their home or small office.

PressPass: Why is Microsoft doing this?

Ringer: Wireless networking opens up a wide range of possibilities for personal computing. We’ve done a lot of research, and it has shown that consumers want to be able to share their broadband Internet connections, and they want more mobility – the ability to move about their house or set up a computer anywhere, to connect to their information from wherever they are.

But right now networking is very difficult; it takes a long time to set up and it’s very confusing for a lot of people. Everyday users are a bit afraid to take the plunge. So it really hasn’t taken off beyond the “early adopter” segment of users. But networking – especially wireless networking – can bring a whole host of advantages to all users, not just the more “technical” ones. Microsoft has an amazing opportunity to help solve the challenges consumers face with networking by making the entire process much easier.

PressPass: Why do you think Microsoft can make wireless networking easier and more convenient?

Ringer: Microsoft has an outstanding track record of making technologies simpler, more enjoyable and more productive for people to use in all areas of their life. This is evident in the software that people use every day, from word processing and creating spreadsheets at work to accessing digital pictures, music and movies over the Internet at home. We intend to apply this expertise and vision toward wireless networking, to enhance the ways that people work and play.

PressPass: How does this fit in with Microsoft’s overall vision for the consumer?

Ringer: Today, the PC is at the center of productivity in most homes. People use it to communicate with friends and family, browse the Internet and track their finances. But consumers want their PCs and their electronics to do more than just the “traditional” tasks; they want to play head-to-head games, talk to and see friends across the country over the Internet, and access and play their music from any PC in the house. That’s where the Microsoft wireless networking products come in. They will allow users to access the Internet and their data from all areas of their house – regardless of which computer it’s housed on – while adding expanded mobility and the option of putting a PC wherever they want it.

PressPass: Why did you choose the Wi-Fi, what’s also known as 802.11b, as the communication standard for these products?

Ringer: Microsoft chose Wi-Fi because it is widely available and affordable today, and it will provide consumers with the best possible experience. Wi-Fi is being adopted broadly, as well, both in the corporate setting and in “hot spots” like coffee shops, airports and hotels. Our use of Wi-Fi will ensure compatibility for our customers so that they can log on to the Internet as they go from the office to a coffee shop, to the airport or to their home.

PressPass: What will differentiate your products from the rest of the wireless networking products on the market?

Ringer: We’re not announcing product details at this time — you’ll have to wait for the fall for that. So without sharing any secrets, our goal with the product line is to provide customers with an easy way to get their wireless networks up and running, so they can take advantage of all the great benefits a wireless network offers. These products raise the bar for easy setup and maintenance, which will ultimately help transform Wi-Fi from its current status as an early adopter technology to a mainstream one.

PressPass: Security seems to be a big concern when it comes to wireless networking. How are you going to ensure this is a secure solution?

Ringer: Again, we’re not going to discuss product details until later this year. But I can tell you that Microsoft is monitoring the security concerns around wireless networking, particularly with regard to WiFi, and we will address these concerns in our products.

What it comes down to is this: Microsoft will deliver a line of wireless networking products that are very secure and that also perform well for our customers in the home, home office and small office.

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