Microsoft: Windows 8 will have 'robust USB 3.0 support'

By on August 23, 2011, 12:00 PM

Microsoft is offering up a few more details about its next-gen operating system on the recently launched Building Windows 8 blog. Although this is hardly surprising news, according to a post by Dennis Flanagan, Windows 8 is expected to bring native support for USB 3.0 devices while maintaining backwards compatibility to make sure it still works with 10 billion existing devices in homes and offices across the world.

The Director of Program Management for Microsoft's Devices and Networking group goes into excruciating detail on how the company worked to bring USB 3.0 support to Windows 8 -- not before giving us a brief history lesson of the standard.

The short version is that a new USB software stack was designed from the ground up, with work starting even before USB 3.0 devices were available, while keeping the existing software stack to make sure older devices will continue to function. Compatibility tests were conducted after breaking devices into three main categories: by their popularity, the chipset used, and high-profile challenging devices that have been problematic in the past.

USB 3.0 has a theoretical max data transfer speed of 5 Gbps, which is about ten times faster than its predecessor, but also half of what Intel’s new Thunderbolt ports can deliver. However, USB has the upper hand when it comes to adoption.

Whereas Thunderbolt is being used mainly by Apple, and in a more limited fashion by Sony, USB 3.0 is found in a wide range of motherboards and pre-built systems being sold today. "By 2015, all new PCs are expected to offer USB 3.0 ports, and over 2 billion new "SuperSpeed" USB devices will be sold in that year alone," writes Flanagan in his post.

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