Microsoft Enters Broadband Home Networking

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Software giant Microsoft Corp. is going hardware with a new line of broadband
home-networking devices.

The company unveiled its new broadband networking product line Thursday,
offering wired and wireless schemes using Ethernet technology.

For the already crowded wireless home-networking market, Microsoft is
offering products based on wi-fi 802.11b with Intersil Corp.'s 'PRISM' chip
sets, able to transmit up to 11 megabits per second in bandwidth. It consists of
a $149.95 base station, $79.95 universal-serial-bus adapters for additional
computers and a $79.95 laptop adapter card.

Microsoft is also offering kits with various hardware combinations at
discounted prices.

The company is trying to make installation easier for users with a setup
wizard, which detects the customers' Internet-service provider and modem
settings and automatically configures the hardware. It also automatically
creates a backup disk with the settings should the user need to reconfigure the
system. And network utility tools will help users to monitor and troubleshoot
their networks.

'The process of setting up a wireless network has simply been too complex for
the people looking to share their broadband Internet connection,' said Lisa
Brummel, corporate vice president for the Microsoft Home Products Division, in a
release.

'Our primary goal in creating these products was to help enable the scenarios
that people see as important to their lives,' she added. 'This means giving
users the freedom they need to access their information at any time and on any
device.'

In contrast to most wi-fi wireless products, the Microsoft gear comes with
128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy turned on. It also sports other security
features such as network-address translation and a built-in firewall.

On the wired side, the new home-networking line includes a 10/100 Ethernet
base station for $79.95, a $29.95 USB adapter and a $39.95 laptop
adapter.

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