Apparently, Microsoft is throwing its support behind FireWire rather than USB 2.0. The company plans to support FireWire in its upcoming Windows XP operating system, according to a CNET
“Microsoft’s position further accentuates the debate over USB 2.0 vs. FireWire,” the story says. “It also creates strange bedfellows: Apple and Microsoft on one side pitted against USB 2.0’s major backers on the other — Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent Technologies and others. Microsoft, too, is a founding member of the USB Implementers Forum. Microsoft’s decision slams USB 2.0 at an important juncture in its development, a move that could keep the connectivity standard from finding a firm footing in mainstream computing, said IDC analyst Roger Kay.”
Apple has chosen FireWire as its high-speed peripheral interface of choice, but some of the rest of the industry is moving toward USB 2.0 for high-speed hardware connections. USB 2.0 outperforms the older USB 1.1 — presently being used on Mac products — by running up to 480 megabits per second compared to the standard 12 Mbits/s. However, FireWire already operates at 400 Mbps and is expected to reach 800 Mbps and 1600 Mbps.
The longer USB 2.0 is delayed, the more traction FireWire gets,” Kay said. “USB 2.0 on paper is great, but the lack of real USB is going to give FireWire time to entrench itself for those high-bandwidth types of applications, such as video,” he added.
Ironically, Apple hasn’t announced its USB 2.0 plans, pro or con. However, other companies have expressed their intentions of making the next rev of USB available to Mac users. Those companies include such firms as QPS, Orange Micro, and Keyspan.
Support for USB 2.0 will be possible — under Mac OS X, according to Keyspan President Mike Ridenhour. He suspects that USB 2.0 drivers will be available for the next generation operating system.
“We’re not interested in writing our own Mac drivers for USB 2.0,” Ridenhour told MacCentral earlier this year. “Apple will probably put support for it in OS X. However, USB 2.0 can’t be done for Mac OS 9 without Apple’s support.”