Bits & Bytes
TAKING THE HASSLE OUT OF PC ADD-ONS
One of the biggest frustrations for buyers of IBM-compatible PCs is adding whiz-bang accessories such as sound cards, CD-ROM drives, and graphics cards. To make sure their different signals don't disrupt one another often requires the customer to do some tricky programming and even set tiny switches on each card they install.
A solution is on the way. Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., and hundreds of suppliers of PC hardware have created a standard, called Plug and Play, that will prevent these devices from conflicting with one another. A program known as enumerator, which Microsoft plans to build into Chicago, the next version of its Windows operating system, will automatically change settings on Plug and Play-compatible cards when conflicts occur. For those who can't wait until the Microsoft product is available--analysts expect it late this year--Intel has created an interim program that manufacturers can add to their computers now. Start looking for Plug and Play-branded peripherals soon: Dozens of manufacturers are expected to announce them at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference on Feb. 23.EDITED BY IRA SAGER