Bluetooth, the wireless local area personal network standard championed by Ericsson, got a leg-up this week when Microsoft said the next generation of its Windows CE embedded operating system will include support for the wireless standard.

This paves the way for CE-powered computing devices to communicate with a variety of other wireless devices, the software firm said yesterday.

The forthcoming operating system, codenamed Talisker, also got a new name: Windows CE .net.

The new handle follows Microsoft's latest naming scheme as it releases more products tied to its .net internet 'initiative', which will in theory let people access information from a variety of computing devices connected to the internet.

Bluetooth is a specification designed to allow wireless computers, mobile phones and other portable handheld devices access to the internet through a radio frequency. Windows CE .net, which is currently in beta testing, will be the first in Microsoft's entire line of operating systems to ship with built-in Bluetooth support, the company said.

The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), a panel of executives from the leading technology companies shaping the standard, certified that Microsoft's implementation of Bluetooth in Windows CE .net met its required specifications after testing it with several Bluetooth products from major manufacturers, Microsoft said.

Companies building and testing early applications for Windows CE .net include Siemens, which is working on a webpad device based on the new operating system. The company will make use of the new Bluetooth support in its forthcoming Windows CE .net devices, Siemens said in a statement yesterday.