Microsoft attempts to rally more hardware vendors around Rally

Microsoft attempts to rally more hardware vendors around Rally

Summary: One of Microsoft's biggest pushes at this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) is around Rally, a connectivity platform that Microsoft debuted at last year's WinHEC. So far, there are only 20 devices on the market that use Rally. Microsoft wants to grow that number exponentially.

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One of Microsoft's biggest pushes at this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) is around Rally, a connectivity platform that Microsoft debuted at last year's WinHEC.

Rally is a set of networking protocols and licenses that are designed to simplify consumers'abilities to connect peripherals to Windows Vista and to each other. (That's my best attempt at a succinct definition, at least.)

So far, there are only 20 devices that use Rally technologies, according to Microsoft's own press release, with "many more currently under development." Meanwhile, OEMs have downloaded "more than 1,100 copies of the Windows Rally Porting Kit," introduced a year ago, Microsoft says.

By making use of auto-discovery and auto-configuration, Rally "gets over the humps of things in the past that were so hard," said Corporate Vice President of Windows Product management Mike Nash. Rally is a "foundational technology in Windows for management, set-up and security."

Rally is a superset of a bunch of existing networking standards/specs/tools. Among them:

• Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD), a layer 2 protocol that operates over Ethernet and allows users one-click access to a device's Web user interface

• Windows Connect Now (WCN), Microsoft’s implementation of the WiFi Alliance’s WiFi Protected Setup

• Devices Profile for Web Services (DPWS), which enables programmatic control of devices, and discovery of device capabilities

• Plug and Play Extensions (PnPX), which enable for buses, such as USB, device-like plug-and-play capabilities

There is no such thing as a "Rally-Ready" or "Rally-Certified" logo. Instead, if users purchase "Certified for Vista" networking peripherals, they will be Rally-compatible, Nash said.

There are a half-dozen Rally-specific sessions on tap for WinHEC in Los Angeles this week, covering topics ranging from best practices, to implementation guidelines.

Anyone out there -- on the OEM or user side of the house -- have any direct experience with Rally yet? Is it more than just another attempt by Microsoft to license more protcols?

Topics: Networking, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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