30-MAR-95, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND.
Microsoft's recent purchase of a 25% stake
in the Motorola developed
"Iridium" global mobile telephone
system, and their two year-old
"Memorandum of Co-Operation" with
the US National Physics Laboratory were
put into perspective today at a meeting
in the Palexpo exhibition center in Geneva,
At the invitation-only event at the 37th
Clock & Watchmakers Convention, William
Gates II, president of Microsoft Corp. (Redmond,
Wash.), announced an agreement with Intel
Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), Motorola Inc.
(Scottsdale, Ariz.), Casio Corp. (Tokyo),
Swatch AG (Biel/Bienne, Switzerland), Rolex
AG (Bern, Switzerland) and the US Government,
on the establishment of a new universal
standard for time measurement for use with
Personal Computers (PCs), clocks, watches,
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile
communications systems. A number of production
and prototype products and tools were demonstrated
that make use of the new standard.
Microsoft's new Time standard - known as
MSTime - was developed in co-operation with
the International Standards Organisation
(ISO) and is claimed to remove the need
for national and local time zones, solves
problems with poor PC time-keeping, and
even looks ahead to deal with time-dilation
effects associated with space travel.
Gates informed the meeting that MSTime will
allow the synchronisation of Chinese, Moslem
and Western calender systems, and will automatically
adjust for irregularities in the rate of
rotation of the Earth. MSTime signals will
be broadcast on Motorola's "Iridium"
global mobile telephone system, the US Government's
Global Positioning System satellites, from
radio beacons in various national centers,
and via Microsoft's new on-line network.
A new Microsoft designed PC card, incorporating
a short range radio
transmitter, will be made available, at
low cost, to provide further local
distribution of the MSTime signal from the
Many computer applications, Gates claimed,
will not function beyond the
year 2000 - current Microsoft Operating
System (OS) architectures are only good
until (variously) 2078 and 2099. MS supplied
software libraries for MSTime will allow
software developers to write new programs,
or recompile old ones, that will function
correctly indefinitely. Since Microsoft
is keen to see the MSTime standard adopted
as soon as possible, it will be providing
these libraries on a free of charge or royalties
An MSTime Software Development Kit (SDK)
is already available, and contains routines
for seamless re-synchronisation of time-zones
and for scheduling changes of time-passage.
Once the MSTime infrastructure is in place,
Gates claimed, travellers will
never again need to adjust their watches.
Timepieces and computers
compatible with MSTime will carry an "I'm
on MSTime!" logo. Latest watches from
Rolex, Swatch and Casio, displayed at the
meeting, are able to switch their display
between Universal, Local and Very Local
Very Local Time (VLT) was originally envisaged
to deal with the time
dilation effects associated with high-speed
travel. These effects, first
described by physicist Albert Einstein,
are exhibited when one of two
identical clocks is taken on a high speed
journey, after which the two
clocks show differing times. As speeds increase
the differences are more
pronounced. Gates claims that the VLT-mode
of MSTime provides continuous synchronisation
of the two clocks, thus removing the problems
and potentially embarrassing time-dilation
effects experienced by high-speed travellers.
However, as Gates pointed out, VLT-mode
will also allow individuals and communities
the freedom to live at speeds and times
that best suit their attitudes and beliefs.
The first PC version of MSTime will be bundled
with the latest version of
Microsoft's successful "Windows"
computer operating system - Windows'95.
Further updates will be issued via the recently
inaugurated Microsoft Network. As Gates
told the meeting: "Keeping your version
of MSTime current is going to be pretty
crucial if you want to keep up with the
competition, or even meet your customers
Gates claimed that Microsoft itself has
been using MSTime internally for
the last year - and that the results have
been very encouraging. The first
public release of MSTime is reported "well
on schedule for launch at the
end of 1994".