Microsoft started StartKey following an agreement the company forged with SanDisk in May 2007. Microsoft announced it would be providing unspecified software to replace the U3 Smart Technology that was included on SanDisk flash devices. U3’s technology enabled users to store files, applications and related settings on their USB sticks.
StartKey won`t be just for USB sticks, it will work on other flash-storage devices, like SD memory cards, as well. Microsoft is looking to turn these intelligent storage devices portable “computing companions” for users in both developed and emerging markets, with availability (at least in beta form) likely before the end of this year, according to sources who asked not to be named.
Sources say the company’s goal is to build an end-to-end StartKey environment, comprised of everything from system software on the flash devices. The software development kit will enable third-party developers to create products that can leverage StartKey, and accompany Microsoft applications and services.
StartKey will make these flash devices more Windows-centric. StartKey devices will be customized to plug into Windows machines. They will allow users to bring everything from their desktop wallpaper, to their desktop icons, contact lists and data with them so that they can turn any PC or kiosk into their own, personalized workspaces.