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New big player in the Auto industry, Microsoft

Posted in auto industry, Ford by Alan Harten | July 29th, 2008 | Leave a Reply |

As Detroit auto executives are crying into their martinis over a business lunch and are worrying about their future, ever decreasing vehicle sales, and why did they think it was a good idea to build lots of huge SUV’s. Execs over at Microsoft are thrilled at the prospect of moving into the car business in a big way.

The problem for auto companies is that designing a brand new vehicle takes years and designing a brand new super fuel efficient engine is going to take forever. And while they wait for these new developments the price of gas is crippling sales.

Their only hope is to alter their vehicles to make them stand out from the crowd, to give new and exiting options that will keep the publics interest. But these options also take years to bring into production. Unless they are computer related tech options for entertainment, information and fuel saving.

Now who would be good at that sort of thing? Well Microsoft see the writing on the Detroit executive bathroom wall and have decided to raise their investment in the auto sector by a third this year alone.

Microsoft wants its online services to be built to accommodate the needs of the auto industry. They are going to build up the auto software group in the coming months as part of its commitment in the automotive sector. The first thing they are rolling out is the so-called Windows Live Search for Devices (LS4D).

According to Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit LS4D allows the manufacturers of navigation and other infotainment devices for the automotive industry, the integration of new services with online connectivity in their products.

Among other things it will link GPS with local data queries about for example shops or restaurants. LS4D can already be completely integrated within Windows Automotive software. It is a special package based on Windows Embedded for use in cars. In the near future the platform will be built directly into the operating system at the factory.

In the coming year, a new version of Microsoft software will be ready for use in the automobile market, with the aim of providing what Microsoft calls a “total solution” for onboard computing in vehicles.

Microsoft technology is already behind the infotainment systems in vehicles of different brands. Ford’s is known as Sync in the U.S which is available in many models including, Fords Edge, Explorer, Sport Trac, and the Mercury Milan and Sable. And Fiat’s range known as “Blue & Me” in Europe and South America. In addition, Microsoft has invested heavily in this seasons Formula 1 racing cars with new electronic computer generated engine control systems.

The profits could be huge even by Microsoft’s standards, there are nearly a billion vehicles on the world’s roads, and if they could put their devices into just 20% or even 10% of those automobiles the potential for making money from the auto business may be incredible.

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