Microsoft nonchalant about Phoenix assault on Windows

Phoenix claims new app platform will solve problems endemic to Windows

BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies' plans to market a new application platform the company claims will solve a number of problems endemic to Microsoft's Windows platform might be taken as a provocative gesture at their longtime partner. But Redmond's immediate reaction was nonchalant.

At the beginning of this week the software maker announced Hyperspace, a Linux-based virtualization platform that will let OEMs bundle cut-down versions of popular open-source software that end users will be able to access instantly, even without booting Windows.

"We call this embedded simplicity, or PC 3.0," said Woody Hobbs, CEO of Phoenix in an interview.

Phoenix has for many years been the leading maker of BIOS, which enables a PC's Windows operating system to communicate with the hardware. But BIOS is being slowly supplanted by a newer technology called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

Phoenix says Hyperspace will let laptop computer makers offer a customized menu of applications tailored to specific customer needs. For instance, a PC maker could use Hyperspace to customize units with software and services tailored to the health care industry. That could help them sell notebook PCs in that vertical market for a higher price, as well as improve the user experience by giving them faster access to key applications.

Right now, laptop users need to either boot Windows -- often a multi-minute process -- or wake up their computer from standby mode, an option that still works imperfectly for many computers.

Phoenix also claims that software run in Hyperspace will consume fewer system resources, and hence less battery life, as well as be more secure from hackers.

Phoenix has a posse

The company says it is already working with some PC and software vendors, though it declined to disclose names. But in a conference call hosted by Phoenix after its initial announcement, executives from Lenovo Group (maker of the ThinkPad) and security software vendor McAfee both joined the call to express their support for Phoenix's vision.

"There are quite a few folks poking at this space," said Peter Hortensius, Lenovo's senior vice-president in charge of its laptop business. Examples ripped from the headlines Google Inc.'s plans to help make smartphones more PC-like, as well as small, cheap notebooks such as the One Laptop Per Child and Asus' EEE. "Phoenix is one of the most innovative."

Hobbs was not shy in voicing his belief that Microsoft's continual adding of new features to Windows "is going down a failed path. They're just putting too much on the back of Windows, which the architecture can't support."

While Hyperspace would be unlikely to persuade laptop makers to completely dump Windows, Microsoft is nevertheless unlikely to be pleased by any apparent loosening of its grip on the PC market, especially by a Linux-based contender.

Microsoft declined to comment directly on Hyperspace. But on the issue of slow Windows boot-ups, it said this is "more impacted by what applications you have installed and whether they are part and parcel of the start-up process or not on your PC. Some people want their applications to be ready to go when they boot up; but what that means is often a trade off in terms of boot up performance."

Phoenix' Hobbs also said that Microsoft's attempt to solve the boot-up time problem, called Vista SideShow, was inferior to Hyperspace.

SideShow enables small programs called "gadgets" to display data downloaded from applications the last time Windows was accessed on a small LCD screen on the outside of notebook case, for example.

In the statement, Microsoft said that "SideShow is doing well, and there are a variety of vendors building gadgets including Toshiba, LG, Asus, and Fujitsu."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?