Microsoft readies new Storage 1.0 feature pack for Windows

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on a new storage-focused feature pack -- part of the company's Storage 1.0 platform -- that will add new Blu-Ray media and smart-card driver functionality to Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on a new storage-focused feature pack -- part of the company's Storage 1.0 platform -- that will add new Blu-Ray media and smart-card driver functionality to Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. I hear the forthcoming storage feature pack was being tested by a number of folks in a private, non-disclosure-covered beta until recently. But now the information on the new feature pack is availalble for any/all to see on the Microsoft Connect site. From the site:

"There are 3 technologies available for this Pre-Release. Each will have its own installer:
  • "Active Storage Platform: This pre-release package enables the Windows platform to restrict access to portable devices (such as a USB Flash Device) via a certificate or password authentication based on the IEEE 1667 standard specification.
  • "Image Mastering API update for Blu-Ray media: This feature enables the Windows platform to do master style optical burning on Blu-Ray media.
  • "Smart Card Driver: This release provides support for new form factors, such as ICCD/CCID.
I asked Microsoft for further information and got this back from a company spokesperson: "The (forthcoming storage pack) release is a follow-on to the feature pack released in 2007, which provided down-level optical platform support. The current feature pack plans to update the optical platform as well as provide support for some additional storage devices. The release plans have not been announced." The feature pack for Storage 1.0 won't be the first Vista feature pack. Microsoft has released, in addition to the previously mentioned optical feature pack, a wireless feature pack. Some also consider the recently released "Fiji" Windows Media Center TV Pack a feature pack.

Feature packs are a way for Microsoft to get new features to users without making them wait for the next major Windows release. Unlike Service Packs, which typically are more about bug fixes than new features (unless you are on the Visual Studio team), feature packs are, as the name suggests, the delivery vehicle for new, between-release, features. And although Microsoft won't say this, given the tight leash that is being kept on anyone mentioning Windows 7 (other than via sanctioned, official channels), features that are delivered in interim feature packs are expected to be folded into the next release. So the new features in the forthcoming Storage 1.0 pack are highly likely to be part of Windows 7. One tester was bullish about the forthcoming storage pack. "It's going to be one of these free updates that doesn't necessarily create a lot of buzz, but once it's out and people are use to it, they'll wonder how they ever lived with out it...especially the ability in the base OS (operating system) to control removable media," said the tester, who requested anonymity. Anyone else out there dabbled with the new storage feature pack or interested in doing so?

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