Microsoft, Sony team for PC-AV link

LAS VEGAS — Proving once again that the big and powerful often get bigger and more powerful, Microsoft and Sony on Tuesday announced plans to establish a link between the personal computer and consumer electronics.

The two companies plan to cross-pollinate their technologies: Microsoft will license Sony’s Home Networking Module for use on PCs, and Sony will utilize Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system in future audiovisual products available in the retail sector.

“Sony’s ability to develop products with broad consumer appeal is second to none,” Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said in a statement. “We hope that our combined efforts will give birth to even more exciting applications in both the computer and audiovisual entertainment arenas.”

But what does all of this mean to the average shopper?

Nothing yet, if one is interested exclusively in the quality of future products. But to Hollywood technophiles, software developers and product manufacturers, the potential and the possibilities to develop new uses and consumer items are limitless, because everything in one household will soon be “connected.”

Additionally, the joint effort between two of the biggest names in global communications will certainly create a buzz in a still-hazy digital TV marketplace.

“This is the first step toward assimilating all available household entertainment products into one seamlessly integrated order,” said Sony Consumer Electronics spokesman Mack Araki. “Up until now, VCRs, televisions, computers and stereos have had their own operating systems with different standards. We are now working with Microsoft to create a similar standard for everything from HDTV transmission to video playback.”

While no announcement has been made detailing the first batch of expected projects, the seeds have been planted: To ensure that PCs and AV equipment travel along the same path, the two megacongloms will tackle production, transmission and reception issues with regard to the evolution of digital technologies.

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