U3 smart drives are the size of a pack of chewing gum or smaller, and let users carry not only files but also Windows software applications with their associated preferences and settings. Consumers simply plug a U3 smart drive into any Windows-based computer?s USB port to securely access personalized e-mail programs, Web browsers, productivity tools, multimedia applications and more. When they unplug their U3 smart drive, they take their personal information with them.
The new offering will be designed so that users can carry their personal computing environment ? including a customized and familiar user interface, applications and data ? on a flash storage device such as a USB flash drive or flash memory card. This computing environment will be accessible on Windows XP and Windows Vista-based computers with a USB port or flash card reader.
Microsoft will engage in discussions with third-party hardware vendors interested in licensing the new software offering. A new entity will be created to license compatible hardware designs, TrustedFlash and other intellectual property from both Microsoft and SanDisk, with revenues to be shared by the two companies.
"SanDisk and U3 forged the category of smart USB devices, elevating simple flash storage to a whole new level of customer benefit," said Will Poole, corporate vice president of Microsoft?s Market Expansion Group.
"The existing 20,000 U3 software developers that joined us show the potential for smart flash memory devices," said Yoram Cedar, executive vice president of the mobile business unit and corporate engineering at SanDisk.
U3 technology was developed by U3 LLC, a joint venture of SanDisk and m-systems, and became available in 2005. SanDisk acquired m-systems in November 2006, and U3 LLC today is a wholly owned subsidiary of SanDisk.