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SanDisk Partners With Microsoft

Redmond, Wash. — SanDisk and Microsoft will introduce a new USB flash-drive operating system in the second half of 2008, the companies announced today.

The new system will replace the U3 operating system, currently supported by 20 USB drive manufacturers and marketers such as Kingston, PNY and Imation.

According to the companies, Microsoft will develop the software and SanDisk will develop compatible hardware — both flash drives and flash-memory cards. Microsoft is currently sounding out third-party hardware vendors for licensing opportunities and the two firms will create a new entity to license compatible hardware.

According to a SanDisk spokesman, the company will continue to support and develop products for U3-enabled drives until the new drives arrive in 2008. Software developers who wrote applications for U3 drives will be offered a migration path to modify their U3 programs for use on the new operating system.

The partnership will enable SanDisk to use its TrustedFlash security technology and enhanced integration with Windows to offer a new class of USB flash drives, the spokesperson said. More secured drives could be used to store personal financial data and opens the door to e-commerce applications, the spokesman added.