updated 11:05 am EDT, Fri May 11, 2007
MS and SanDisk Smart Drive
Microsoft and SanDisk today revealed that they will work on a new replacement for U3 smart drive technology that could customize virtually any PC by plugging in a drive. While today's U3 drives are mainly used for launching portable apps such as security tools and browsers, the new, unnamed format will let drive owners personalize the environment. Plugging a drive into a PC should customize the Windows interface as well as carry over other personalized settings. Security won't be compromised, SanDisk promises: Microsoft's TrustedFlash is onboard and will guard the programs from attack as well as ensure that all private data leaves the host PC when the drive is removed.
No specific models were unveiled as part of the announcement, which sets the debut of official products for 2008 with support for Windows XP and Vista. However, expect SanDisk's Cruzer line (pictured) to see U3 replaced alongside other drives from the company and third-party hardware makers. SanDisk itself says it will continue to support U3 until its replacement arrives.