Microsoft Unveils New Home PC Experiences With “Freestyle” and “Mira”

Las Vegas, Nev. - During his keynote address January 7 at the 2002 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft Corp., previewed "Freestyle," which includes a new user interface to enable consumers to access their music, videos, and photos from anywhere in the room.

By Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor January 9, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. – During his keynote address January 7 at the 2002 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft Corp. , previewed ‘Freestyle,’ which includes a new user interface to enable consumers to access their music, videos, and photos from anywhere in the room. Although this technology is designed for home use, it would not be surprising to see spillover development efforts for offices as well.

‘Freestyle’ also will enhance Windows XP to deliver new TV experiences on the PC. In addition, Mr. Gates unveiled a set of Windows CE.Net-based technologies, code-named ‘Mira,’ designed to be included in a new generation of smart display devices such as detachable, wireless mobile flat-screen monitors and digital televisions, extending a complete Windows PC experience to relaxed settings in any room in the home.

‘Microsoft’s vision is to bring technology to life in a way that not only is a natural extension of what people already want to do, but also greatly expands what people could do but may not have imagined possible,’ said Jim Allchin, group vice president of Platforms at Microsoft. ‘Today’s previews of ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Mira’ show how Microsoft is connecting the power of Windows XP PCs to a wide variety of consumer electronics, thus bringing us closer to this vision.’

Microsoft is working closely with leading consumer PC manufacturers to design media center PCs optimized for the rich capabilities of Windows XP and ‘Freestyle.’ The first wave of these manufacturers includes Hewlett-Packard Co., NEC Corp., and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Each company is committed to working with Microsoft to extend the PC experience. Further details and availability will be announced later this year.

A new set of Windows CE .Net-based technologies, code-named ‘Mira,’ will enable a new generation of smart displays that give people the freedom to experience Windows XP from anywhere in their home. Harnessing the remote desktop and wireless networking features of Windows XP and Windows CE .Net, ‘Mira’-enabled smart displays will deliver experiences in Windows, including browsing the Web, sending or receiving e-mail messages, listening to music, and editing and displaying digital images, from any room in the home.

‘Mira’ will enable smart displays in a variety of instant-on and silent-running form factors ranging from a primary PC monitor that detaches to become a portable wireless touch-screen monitor to a large digital television that presents a complete Windows XP experience including music and photos from a PC. Microsoft recently released Beta 1 of ‘Mira’ and is teaming with leading companies, including Intel Corp., National Semiconductor Corp., ViewSonic Corp., and Wyse Technology Inc. to deliver ‘Mira’-enabled smart devices. ‘Mira’ is scheduled to ship in the second half of 2002, enabling these new smart devices to be available for the 2002 holiday season. With ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Mira,’ Microsoft is taking two steps toward achieving its vision of enabling consumers to enjoy simple, relevant, and personalized PC-driven experiences anywhere in the home. The first will change how people interact with their PCs and the second will provide more freedom in where they access those experiences. In the future, the two will work in tandem to offer consumers a seamless, connected ecosystem of devices, content, and services throughout the home.