Microsoft, SanDisk take smart USB drives back to school

I like USB stuff…

[quote]Microsoft, SanDisk take smart USB drives back to school
Rick Merritt, (05/11/2007 1:08 PM EDT)
URL: … =199501125

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Microsoft and SanDisk are hitting the re-set button on the move to smart USB flash drives. The duo announced Friday (May 11) they will roll out next year new hardware and software to create drives that can securely carry and launch both data and applications, giving users a portable version of their desktop they can take plug in to any computer.

The move aims to replace as many as five different approaches now in use, including an effort called U3 launched in early 2005 and based on proprietary software from SanDisk running on its embedded flash controllers. In early 2006 flash drives maker Lexar Media Inc. debuted a competing approach using code from Israeli software developer Ceedo Technologies Ltd.

Although tens of millions of USB flash drives ship every year, few of them to date are so-called smart drives that can launch applications software. In part that’s because consumers do not yet understand the value of such products or are not willing to pay a premium for them.

Microsoft and SanDisk are forming a new group to license their hardware and software technology that is behind the new effort with the two companies sharing revenues from the deals. SanDisk said it will launch in the second half of 2008 new versions of its flash cards and Cruzer USB drives using the new hardware and software, including a so-called TrustedFlash security technology, it is developing with Microsoft.

SanDisk claimed as many as 20,000 software developers are working with its existing U3 approach. The flash maker said it will continue to support the U3 organization and product until the new offering is released to the public next year. Both companies said developers will be offered a migration path to modify existing U3 applications to run on the new offering, with Microsoft opening discussions immediately about licensing its software. The new offering will let users carry on a flash card or USB drive data, apps and an environment with their personal preferences. The cards and drives will work on any Windows XP or Vista system

“We are excited to work with SanDisk on this next-generation experience, which will allow hardware manufacturers to better differentiate their products and provide an even richer software and services experience for customers,” said Will Poole, corporate vice president of the market expansion group at Microsoft in a prepared statement.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2006, Lexar showed its USB Flash drives running a handful of programs using software from startup Ceedo Technologies. Lexar claimed the software would become an industry standard available in products later that year.

The USB Flash Drive Alliance, a consortium of USB flash drive makers led by Lexar, said last September it would endorse “a new generation” of USB smart drives that let users run programs. However, it provided no details at that time. Microsoft is a member of the USB Flash Drive Alliance.

The Alliance now says it will not endorse any specific approach to creating smart USB flash drives, but promote the overall market for them instead. Steffen Hellmold, chairman of the Alliance and a senior executive at Lexar said he is aware of as many as five different software approaches to enabling smart USB drives. Some like Ceedo work with any application while others like the U3 approach require modifying Windows apps, something Microsoft disdains.

“We welcome the Microsoft and SanDisk announcement as something that could further expand the market for smart drives,” said Hellmold.

The two companies did not inform the Alliance of their plans before their announcement today.

Hellmold said at least two organizations may be working on formal standards for smart USB drives. They include the mass storage devices working group in the USB Implementers Forum and the IEEE P1667 group developing a standard for password and certificate security technologies for use with USB drives and other devices. The IEEE group was launched in early 2005 and is chaired by a SanDisk engineer. [/quote]

I don’t know what the hell any of that means. You can launch an application off anything you like. If it’s a shitty application, it may look for config in hardcoded places which become wrong, but that’s not something you solve this way.

And hey, people have been booting entire Linux installations off flash disks for ages.

Me too, TaiwanCowboy, can you explain what this actually does without sounding like a press release ?

It sounds like this=If you have a program you like to run, let’s say, Photoshop CS but have to use a computer that doesn’t have it, the flash drive would have the entire program on it. So the flash drive would work like a plug and play program.

Bam! There it is.


Yep, that’s exactly what it does… I’ve got a Scandisk U3 “Cruzer” USB flash stick and when you connect it, it automatically adds a U3 tab on the task bar that you can click to get start menu type of launch menu that includes a few programs that come standard with the unit, you can also install your own software onto the “Cruzer” and run it on any PC directly from the U3 flash drive… I’m not sure how they plan to modify it for ’08 but seems like a good idea even in its current guise…