Microsoft will upgrade Windows XP next year to support two important emerging technologies, the company said this week. Support USB 2.0, a next-generation system bus which supports data transfer speeds of up to 480 Mbs will be added first, with the final code expected early next year. Meanwhile, XP will be upgraded to support Bluetooth, a wireless technology for small connected devices, by mid-2002. Both technologies were originally left out of XP because of timing; neither was ready for inclusion in the OS, which went gold in late August.

"USB 2.0 support has been made available to \[PC makers already\] and will be available to Windows XP users through Windows Update by early 2002," a Microsoft spokesperson told me yesterday. "USB 2 \[is\] 0 particularly suitable for high-performance PC-attached peripheral devices such as high-quality video conferencing cameras, high-resolution scanners, and high-density storage devices. In addition, Microsoft is on track and committed to providing Bluetooth support in Windows XP by mid-year 2002."

In addition to these upcoming improvements, Microsoft also released the second major package of XP application compatibility updates with support for over 40 applications. The December Application Compatibility Update is now available for free download via Windows Update in XP.