Microsoft and SanDisk have inked a deal to create USB flash
drives and memory cards with built-in software and user
preferences to replace SanDisk's existing U3 Cruzer line.
Under the agreement, Microsoft will develop new software and
SanDisk will cover the hardware for the products.
The hardware/software pairing will allow customers to
carry applications as well as their customized Windows
interface on a flash storage device.
SanDisk rep Mike Lanberg said the disks will let users
access their encrypted financial, corporate, and personal
data on public or shared computers without leaving the
information behind when they leave.
The partnership will replace and expand upon SanDisk's
current application-launching flash storage line, U3. The
offering is expected to be commercially available starting
in the second half of 2008. The U3 line will be sold and
supported until the new release, Lanberg said.
SanDisk said its partnership with Microsoft will allow
the applications to be more tightly integrated with Windows
operating systems, as well as enhance data security. The
flash storage drives will support both XP and Vista.
Microsoft has plans to begin recruiting third-party
hardware vendors interested in licensing the new software.
The two companies said they will create "a new entity" to
license compatible hardware designs from both Microsoft and
SanDisk. These revenues will be shared by the two companies.
U3 Smart Drive Redefines Mobile
October 14, 2005
4. A U3-powered flash drive can run
key-based software applications without being tied to a host
By Anne Chen
October 14, 2005
I spend a lot of my time in eWEEK Labs looking at
portable computing devices. Recently, though, I've been
playing with a U3 "smart drive," which enables users to
leave their laptops at home. Created by the company of the
same name, U3 is a platform that allows software developers
to build key-based applications for flash drives.
Traditional flash drives allow users to carry around and
access files; those files are dependent on applications
residing on a host machine. A U3 drive is essentially a
flash drive that you can run a compatible application
directly off of.
SanDisk, Memorex, Verbatim and Kingston, among others,
support the U3 smart drive platform. (U3 actually introduced
the platform more than a year ago, but the drives are just
coming to market now.)
U3-based drives started shipping Oct. 15. Pricing is
about $100 for a 1GB drive. The U3 drives are compatible
only with Windows 2000 and Windows XP at this time.
I've been using a 512MB SanDisk Cruzer Micro and a 1GB
Verbatim Store 'n' Go U3 Smart Drive for a couple of weeks
now. So far, I've been pretty satisfied with the experience.
After the U3 smart drive is plugged into a USB port, the
drive is automatically recognized by Windows, and I can
launch U3-enabled applications. When I eject the USB drive,
my footprint disappears, and I take my data with me.
All U3 drives work in the same fashion, but drive
manufacturers install their own applications onto the
drives. For example, the Verbatim drive has anti-virus
software from McAfee, while the Mini TravelDrive from
Memorex comes with the Thunderbird e-mail client.
Not all the applications are available yet, but you can
get a good idea of what's to come—like the Firefox
browser—from the U3 Web
One application I like is Dmailer Sync, which allowed me
to synchronize, backup and restore all my personal files and
Outlook data. With Dmailer Sync, I could also send e-mail
from the drive even if the host machine didn't have Outlook
It's hard to imagine road warriors leaving their laptops
behind only to search for a desktop at every stop, but I can
see the drive allowing many users to leave their computers