If you'll recall, Microsoft announced that it was teaming up with SanDisk last May to conjure up a suitable U3 replacement. Not quite a year later, we're starting to hear the first whispers of what that replacement may be. Purportedly dubbed StartKey, the so-called Windows companion would essentially allow users to "carry their Windows and Windows Live settings with them" on any sort of flash memory device -- be it a USB drive, SD card, etc. Interestingly, it's also being reported that Redmond would like to "build an end-to-end StartKey environment," but aside from the tidbit that it should be out in at least beta form by the year's end, pretty much everything else remains murky.

[Via ArsTechnica, image courtesy of Tom's Hardware]

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