Microsoft Corporation announced today that it is entering the smart card market with its new OS, Smart Cards for Windows. Microsoft says the new OS will offer the benefits of Windows-based development and run-time environments. A beta version is scheduled to be available in January 1999.

"Smart Cards for Windows uniquely offers the greatest choice of tools, a common run-time environment and the strongest possible security," said Craig Mundie, senior VP of the consumer platforms division at Microsoft. "With the low-cost Smart Cards for Windows, we hope to support a broad array of solutions to provide secure access to online resources as part of an end-to-end solution. We have a business model that provides value-added opportunities for our partners, and we feel we have the opportunity to help expand the smart card market on an international basis."

Smart Card for Windows is an 8-bit operating system that is designed to be low-cost, and easy-to-program, using a special version of Visual Basic