Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will tout recent developments with the company's remote-display technology (code-named Mira) at the CeBIT trade show today in Germany. The technology includes a new generation of Mira-enabled flat-panel display screens (expected to ship late this year) that the user can pick up and carry around a house or office; the user interacts with the PC using 802.11b-based wireless networking, Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services technology, and a stylus. This week, four major new partners, including LG Electronics and Philips Electronics, signed on with Microsoft to deliver Mira-based displays.

"Mira-enabled devices allow consumers to extend their Windows XP experience to a variety of relaxed settings in any room in the home," Ballmer says. "We are very excited that these leaders in the consumer electronics and personal computing industries are joining the growing number of companies worldwide that will deliver a new generation of smart displays based on Mira."

Most Mira partners, including LG Electronics, NEC, and ViewSonic, had originally planned to ship 15" primary displays, which Microsoft expects will be installed as a user's only display. But Philips and other OEMs will augment this configuration with 8" and 10" secondary displays, which will communicate solely through 802.11b and Terminal Services. These less-expensive devices will remain disconnected from the PC, but users can use them anywhere in the house to interact with their PCs in a way that doesn't require heavy typing. Manufacturers will build future Mira displays into several non-PC devices as well, including picture frames and TV sets.

Microsoft will begin an external beta of the Mira technologies early next month, and the company expects to hit beta 2 this summer. The final release will occur in time for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) in September; Mira will be delivered as part of SP1.