A consumer sore spot for home networking is that the technology can be difficult to set-up and configure. A group of 17 technology companies hope to change that with the Digital Home Working Group (DHWG), a consortium that will attempt to make the sharing of digital content among a variety of networked devices a snap.

Companies that have joined the DHWG include: Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Intel, IBM, Kenwood, Lenovo, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Microsoft, NEC CustomTechnica, Nokia, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, STMicroelectronics and Thomson.

They will create design guidelines based on industry standards that support the sharing of digital photos, music and video among interoperable personal computers, TVs, set-tops, stereos, DVD players and personal digital assistants.

DHWG said design guidelines will use established standards such as Internet Protocol, UPnP and Wi-Fi. However, the group reportedly has not yet come to terms on how to address digital rights management to protect copyrighted content.

The group said its goal is to deliver those guidelines and turn out the first "compliant" products within the next year. Approved equipment will bear a DHWG-certified logo.

The member companies said interoperability is required before home networking and the applications to support it can reach a critical mass.

The DHWG effort in some ways mirrors home networking projects well under way in cable and DSL circles.

CableLabs, for example, has already certified several CableHome-compliant cable modem gateways.

The DSL Forum, meanwhile, has launched the DSLHome Initiative. The Consumer Electronics Association and the Wi-Fi Alliance were among a group of 11 organizations to endorse the project, which includes both technical and marketing elements.

The CEA, IDC, Internet Home Alliance and Wi-Fi Alliance also pledged support for the new DHWG initiative.