U3 Smart Technology is an architecture developed by SanDisk for portable applications which can be stored on flash drives and transported easily between PCs. Apparently Microsoft thinks they can help SanDisk do better:
Microsoft Corp. and SanDisk® Corp. today announced they have signed an agreement to deliver a next-generation software and hardware solution to place application programs and personal customization on USB flash drives and flash memory cards, expanding on and replacing SanDisk’s existing U3™ Smart Technology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will develop a new software experience and SanDisk will develop new hardware capabilities, including the addition of TrustedFlash™ security technology. SanDisk will incorporate the combined software and hardware solution on removable flash memory cards and Cruzer® USB flash drives. The new offering is expected to be commercially available starting in the second half of 2008.
Effective immediately, Microsoft will engage in discussions with third-party hardware vendors interested in licensing the new software offering. A new entity will be created to license compatible hardware designs, TrustedFlash and other intellectual property from both Microsoft and SanDisk, with revenues to be shared by the two companies.
U3 satisfied a long unmet need and Microsoft is smart not to let it get away.