SAN FRANCISCO--Microsoft and Phoenix Technologies, the maker of the system software that allows hardware to communicate with the operating system in most PCs, on Tuesday announced a joint effort aimed at making computers easier to use.
The companies are expanding their existing relationship to include joint development and cross-licensing, said Albert Sisto, president, chief executive and chairman of San Jose, California-based Phoenix.
The goal of the venture is to make it easier for consumers to restore a crashed computer to its previous state and for corporations to diagnose and fix computer problems, he said.
Computers should be more like other home appliances, intuitive and dependable, Sisto said.
"We believe that through this collaboration we will allow hardware companies to provide a new set of digital devices designed for specific purposes, that are highly reliable, easy to use, (with) instant-on and that provide function immediately and require little to no learning curve," he said.
Systems with features resulting from the collaboration are expected to be on the market within a year or two, Sisto said.
Phoenix makes the BIOS--Basic Input Output System--software that is activated when a PC is turned on, as well as other core system software. The BIOS software wakes up all the different hardware and software components and is the link between the different peripherals, like printer and mouse, and the operating system.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft's Windows operating system is the operating system used on personal computers.
The companies are members of the Trusted Computing Group, an organization formed to create technologies designed to improve computer security by embedding features deeper into the system, including into the chips that serve as the brains.
Critics of the group have expressed concern that underlying the effort is a mission to thwart software piracy and that it will erode consumer privacy and control, claims the technology companies deny.