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PC, PCs Everywhere
By Jim Forbes
Simply Interactive PC: Remember that term. In essence, SIPC, as
Microsoft calls it, denotes a new generation of personal computers
that fire up the moment they're turned on, easily connect to consumer
gadgets like TV sets and stereos, come optimized for multimedia
and hook up to the Internet. They've received the stamp of approval
from the industry's most important player, Microsoft CEO Bill
Gates. And they could be just a few months away.
In a speech to developers this spring, Gates spelled out his vision
of the future: a framework of hardware technologies that revolves
around the 1394 serial interface. This new bus gives PC makers
easier connections to stereo systems, camcorders and videodisc
players, and can move information at speeds of up to 100Mbps-much
faster than current technology allows. Future versions are slated
to double that speed.
During his presentation, Gates demonstrated some key SIPC prototypes
-including enhanced audio and 3D graphics-in three "concept"
PCs, all with various implementations of the Universal Serial
Bus and connections to the 1394. Two of the machines, from Compaq
and Toshiba, had "sealed" designs (the vendors don't
expect users to insert new components themselves); the latter
was described as a "home entertainment PC." (While it
wasn't on display, sources say Sony has a similar product in the
For his part, Gates has more in mind for the living room PC than
just cosmetic changes and easier connections. The SIPC also calls
for instant boot-up and products that are far more intuitive than
those now available. The new designs should have new input/output
devices, as well as a browser with full-featured e-mail, voice
messaging, conferencing and fax services.
Sound simple? Don't bet on it. Shifting the PC from the office
room to the den is likely to be anything but.