By Manny Frishberg
BlueSoleil is the most commonly bundled driver for Bluetooth devices for the PC and some mobile devices. Bluetooth is one of the wireless technologies that enables things like wireless keyboards and cell phones to connect wirelessly without you having to do anything. Bluetooth refers to both the hardware (radio transceiver, antenna, and so on) and software called a “protocol stack” of which BlueSoleil is one. There are several free alternatives to BlueSoleil.
Windows Bluetooth Stack
One of the simplest alternatives is to use the Bluetooth stack that comes built into the more recent versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. If you have a computer running Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later—including Windows Vista or the latest , Windows 7—the Bluetooth stack is already there , ready for you to start using right away. The Windows Bluetooth software will connect with most of the devices that you likely need it to, such as a wireless printer, for syncing with your PDA and cell phone and connecting to serial devices.
One of the more common alternatives is Widcomm, produced by Broadcom. Widcomm protocol software comes in at least three forms: BTE for embedded systems (a computer system built-in to a device to perform one or a few specific functions), BTW to connect with Windows devices on desktop and laptop PCs (Widcomm Bluetooth 6.1 will work on computers running Windows Vista , XP, 2000, Me and the Win98 SE operating systems) and BTW-CE for small portable devices like your PDA or smart phone running the Windows-CE mobile operating system (a smaller, stripped down version of Windows). Broadcom promises that all its versions of Widcomm software offer simple integration and good diagnostics to help resolve any problems.
Another Bluetooth protocol stack is EtherMind. It is from MindTree, an Indian company started in 1999 that was involved in setting the Bluetooth protocols when they were first being developed. EtherMind is made to work with both embedded devices and computers.
Manny Frishberg made his home on the West Coast for more than 30 years. He studied writing and journalism at Portland State University. His articles have appeared in Wired News.com, "Discover," the "Puget Sound Business Journal" and dozens of other websites and magazines and has earned four writing awards from the Society for Professional Journalism.