Microsoft pushes Windows for automobiles
Microsoft to push Windows for use in cars, giving entirely new meaning to "blue screen of death"
DETROIT — Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O) may dominate the market for desktop computer software, but the company's first salvo at automobile dash-top computing is just reaching North America after more than five years of work.
Microsoft said on Monday that BMW AG's (BMWG.F) new 7-Series sedan would use Windows CE software to run its in-dash control computer. And Microsoft executives said several other automakers would soon unveil Windows CE-powered systems for future vehicles.
The announcement is a milestone for Microsoft, which has struggled for a foothold in the market against competitors such as Sun Microsystems Inc.(SUNW.O) Sun already has agreements with General Motors Corp. (GM.N) and Ford Motor Co. (F.N) to use its Java technology, and Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy is a Detroit-area native and popular speaker at auto industry gatherings.
Automakers once saw in-car computing and other "telematics" work as potentially worth billions in additional revenues, given how much time the average driver spends in his or her vehicle. But the industry's profit downturn, cool customer response to some early technology and cost-cutting at major automakers has dampened such projections.
Gonzalo Bustillos, the director of Microsoft's automotive business unit, said Microsoft was still bullish on the prospects for in-car computing.
"Vehicle computing is going to be there," he told Reuters in an interview. "Carmakers have decided it's going to be there. The only questions are when, and how the models may become a reality."
Bustillos said Microsoft had Windows CE in 13 vehicle lines worldwide, with nine more to be announced by the end of the year. He said the company was working with all major suppliers and "in discussions with every automaker."
He also said Microsoft would eventually like to see Windows CE used as a link in networks that connect drivers to their home computers, and as an enhancement to navigation systems that give drivers up-to-date information about their trip.
"Consumers will not look at navigation as a system to use when we get lost, but the system that helps me get there in time and helps me avoid traffic," Bustillos said.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.