Microsoft unveils portal for hardware partners

Microsoft has grouped all its online resources for hardware and driver software makers in a new portal site, a move the company believes will ultimately result in a better computing experience for PC users.

Windows Hardware and Driver Central was announced on Monday, a day before the start of WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference), the annual US conference where Microsoft tells hardware makers about its plans for the Windows operating system.

The portal offers an improved search feature and includes white papers, software and hardware specifications and archives of online presentations, said Brad Carpenter, director of Windows Hardware and Driver Quality at Microsoft.

"We think Windows Hardware and Driver Central provides hardware and driver partners the ability to create higher quality and more innovative products quicker than before," Carpenter said. "In the past, if you wanted to find information you had to go to multiple Microsoft sites to find it."

One example of an issue Microsoft hopes to solve partly with the help of the new portal is volume control on Windows PCs. Today there are multiple ways a user can turn the sound level up and down on a PC, which is not ideal, Carpenter said.

"There should be no need to go to three or four different places in Windows to control the volume. We want to work with our hardware and driver partners to think through a holistic system design," he said.

The new portal can also help with new control devices, Carpenter said. Microsoft is working on a technology code-named Xeel for mobile devices such as Tablet PCs and PDAs (personal digital assistants) that would allow a user to use only a thumb to do everything a mouse does on desktop PCs, he said.

Windows Hardware and Driver Central will go online on Monday and will be accessible to all Internet users, Microsoft said.

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