Microsoft brings Bluetooth to your car

Do consumers want hands-free communication, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions in the car? According to a recent survey, three out of five consumers are on board.* Responding toindustry needs, Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of its fifth-version software platform for automotive suppliers and manufacturers, Windows® Automotive 4.2. Based on Microsoft®Windows CE .NET 4.2, the robust, real-time embedded operating system, Windows Automotive will enable automakers to build devices that fit every price range and car model, and will allow drivers andpassengers to take their mobile lifestyle on the road.

Consumers want to be connected, even in the car, and research supports this trend. The survey revealed that 85 percent of U.S. cell phone owners use their cell phone and 50 percent of personal digital assistant (PDA) owners use their PDAs while in the car.* Windows Automotive is Microsoft’s first automotive-specific platform to natively support voice- and data-enabled Bluetooth® and the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework. With these new features, Microsoft is enabling the automotive industry to provide drivers and passengers with hands-free communication, seamless access to Web services such as news, weather and sports, diagnostic information for maintenance, and wireless synchronization of data with mobile devices, as well as smooth functionality among many mobile devices.

“This new platform marks a milestone in the advancement of our initiative to enable the connected car,” said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development who is charged with the oversight of automotive efforts at Microsoft. “Working with industry partners, we can continue to bridge the connectivity gap and develop safe, reliable, advanced in-car communication systems that will enable consumers to use their drive time wisely and bring new revenue streams to automakers.”

Building Safe, Reliable In-Vehicle Systems

Windows Automotive delivers a flexible, scalable, cost-effective platform for developers building in-car computing devices that range from the broad to the specific. To help ensure that customers have the tools to build a device that meets diverse needs, Microsoft provides support for a wide range of features including the latest wireless technologies such as Bluetooth version 1.1 and IEEE 802.11 and 802.1x. For multimedia functionality, the platform delivers rich media content and a complete Web browsing experience with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows CE. In addition, the platform provides a complete set of safety features including hands-free communication with its Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) 5.0 as well as customizable developer tools and driver distraction controls to help ensure device functionality does not interfere with drivers’ ability to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Worldwide Partner Support

Brass is in Munich, Germany, today to introduce the company’s industry-specific telematics solutions during the second Microsoft European Automotive & Telematics Conference. Other speakers include executives from several of the world’s top automakers, including DaimlerChrysler, BMW AG, Fiat, Citroën, Volkswagen, PAG, General Motors Corp. and others.

In addition, Microsoft is working collaboratively with more than 30 automotive suppliers around the world to build telematics systems, many of which will include the hardware, software and services for both the embedded and aftermarkets. These suppliers include Clarion Co. Ltd., Denso Corp., Kenwood Corp., SANYO Multimedia Tottori Co. Ltd. and Yazaki Corp.

Today’s announcement adds to the growing momentum for Microsoft’s in-vehicle technology. The 2003 Honda Accord is the most recent vehicle added to Microsoft’s expanding list of 17 models on the road from eight car manufacturers, including BMW, Citroën, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.