updated 09:45 am EDT, Tue May 6, 2008
Microsoft powers Hyundai
Microsoft Auto software will find its way into Hyundai and Kia vehicles in North America, the South Korea-based automaker announced on Tuesday. The news came during Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' trip to meet South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and will involve the two companies develop and integrate infotainment systems for the vehicles. The deal was two years in the making, and would result in a system similar to the one Microsoft developed for Ford, where it is dubbed Sync.
The first systems to launch will allow voice-controlled connectivity of mobile devices such as cell phones and portable media players, similar to the Sync's Bluetooth connectivity. Later variations are being compared to mini PCs by the companies, and will allow multimedia playback and navigation. The systems' software will be upgradeable and the next-generation system will go beyond the capabilities of the current system in Ford vehicles.
The software could easily be modified to suit a wide range of vehicle segments, from economy to luxury, according to Hyundai. Hardware best suited to take advantage of the software in higher-spec models such as screens and navigation systems would be up to Hyundai to develop, but Microsoft stresses the automaker is only limited by its budget in getting the most out of the software.
The software Microsoft will develop will not be exclusive to Hyundai, and could be licensed to other automakers, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
The yet-unnamed systems are due to show up in Hyundai and Kia vehicles starting in 2010, and it is not known whether they will launch in entry-level models, as was the case with Sync which debuted in the Ford Focus or, in traditional fashion, in high-end models.