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Microsoft expands footprint in car infotainment

Posted: 18 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:car infotainment? automotive industry? Auto operating system?

Software giant Microsoft Corp. has big plans for its automotive infotainment operating system. After having presented the latest Blu&Me generation in the new Fiat sub-mini model 500 at the IAA in Frankfurt and the recent cooperation announcement with Siemens VDO, Microsoft hopes to lure more automotive industrial customers and end users by adding functions to its platform, said Martin Thall, Microsoft general manager automotive business.

The software bundle, dubbed Microsoft Auto, is a version of the company's Windows Mobile OS, tailored for automotive infotainment use. The software has already been implemented on different hardware platformsfor instance, the Fiat implementation is based on a hardware made by Magneti Marelli that uses a Samsung microprocessor, Thall said. Ford Motors 'Sync' platform that also runs the software is based on a Freescale processor. While Siemens VDO will run it on a Renesas hardware platform, Thall explained. "We are porting it to other platforms to adopt car maker's needs", he said in a phone interview with EE Times.

Microsoft's strategy is to expand the functionality gradually in cooperation with automotive suppliers and car makers. For instance, the Fiat implementation first was offering a navigation function with a relatively simple graphical display. In its current generation, dubbed 'Map', it has been upgraded to a full-fledged graphical 3D display, Thall explained. "Over time, the platform can assume more tasks", the Microsoft manager said. "We believe that it even would be possible to eventually run driver assistance systems."

He also said that the Microsoft Auto software could be used to combine infotainment and dashboard functions that otherwise would run on separate ECUs. "This could help automotive OEMs and tier ones to cut costs", he said.

In Frankfurt, Microsoft and Fiat jointly announced another Blue&Me feature dubbed EcoDrive. With the solution, Fiat intends to react on the increased awareness of fuel consumption among drivers. The system is intended to offer drivers a possibility to improve their style in terms of environment friendliness.

EcoDrive collects vehicle data related to fuel efficiency and stores it internally. The driver can download the data onto a USB memory stick and then evaluate on a PCalbeit offlinethe environmental performance of the vehicle including its carbon dioxide emission.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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