I've talked before about how I feel that something like apps+data+USB drive = a more compelling equation for most folks over content on mobile devices (not that there aren't great tools/works going on here- I just think the 5 meter target could be hit by the USB stuff).
Now comes word that MSFT is moving forward with its rumored StartKey program. According to the ZDNet article "Microsoft’s goal is to build an end-to-end StartKey environment — comprised of everything from system software on the flash devices, a software development kit to enable third-party developers to create products that can leverage StartKey, and accompany Microsoft applications and services, sources said."
Well that's great. At least we know that USB drive sizes will be getting much bigger...I imagine that my paltry 8GB drive will barely be sufficient to hold anything from MSFT. Instead of seeking to create another proprietary channel on USB drives this time, wouldn't MSFT be better served by working in a Google-like manner to create USB-enabled versions of their current software or even getting friendly with Portable Apps and not just absorbing U3, this just feels like a clumsy play. It won't enlarge MSFT's market - it'll just enable a new option for those already in the MSFT fold and will create more hard feelings toward MSFT as one USB option, U3, gets sucked up into the Redmond Borg ship. Will my USB key now require activation? Verification? What happens when my USB locks up?