It's strange that we haven't heard a peep about this earlier, but apparently Microsoft's been working on a suite of bundled network discovery and configuration tools called Windows Rally, designed to ease ODM development of network devices and make them as easy to use as USB gear. Although things have been going down on the DL since April, today's the big coming-out party, and the crew in Redmond is celebrating with...the launch of VS-IPC1002 VGA webcam from China's Vimicro. Aimed at "China's fast-growing surveillance market," the standalone cam plugs directly into a 10/100 Ethernet network and uses Windows Rally to auto-configure itself and begin streaming 30fps video to a Vista PC. That doesn't sound like the sexiest thing in the world, but if it actually works as described, we might be seeing a lot of actually-interesting Rally-powered devices in the future.
Update: Check out a video of Rally being demoed at WinHEC after the break -- thanks, Dan Z.