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Microsoft lifts from Apple, intros 'Windows in the car'

updated 07:58 pm EDT, Mon April 7, 2014

Revamps auto platform following Sync setbacks

In a somewhat startling direct lift from Apple, Microsoft announced a new "Windows in the car" initiative based on Windows Phone and Windows 8 that would mirror most of what Apple previously called "iOS in the Car" last summer before renaming it CarPlay. The concept, unveiled at last week's Build conference in San Francisco, comes on the heels of Ford's rejection of Microsoft's previous system in its Sync interface in favor of a BlackBerry-powered in-vehicle infotainment system.

The new system, still at the concept stage at this point, offers the ability to control some vehicle functions (such as turning the defroster on or off) as well as the usual set of entertainment, messaging and navigation options consumers would expect of modern vehicles, wrapped in a touch-oriented Windows 8/RT type interface, featuring Live Tiles, reports AppleInsider. Microsoft product executive Steve Teixeira noted that both third-party developers and automobile manufacturers will be able to add to or modify the system.

The system would have two different modes, allowing full app use on the in-vehicle touchscreen if the vehicle was in "park" while limiting itself to more essential functions when the drive is engaged. "One of the things that we will aim to do is enable application builders to write apps that conform with good, safe drive mode behavior and safe drive mode user interface standards," said Teixeira.

The company is said to be in the testing phase with the concept, showing it to various car manufacturers. It is based on the MirrorLink protocol standard, which should help with adoption, and opens the possibility of aftermarket products using the technology as well. There was no indication from Microsoft about when the concept might come to market, but it is only in very early testing, according to Microsoft.

The company specifically mentioned interest from Ford, Kia, BMW, Nissan and Fiat, most of whom are already Microsoft partners for infotainment systems. All but Fiat have also agreed to use Apple's CarPlay system, though not in any of the current release-year vehicles. For the current model year, selected cars from Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will offer CarPlay iOS integration.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Well of course they called it "Windows in the Car." There was no way to insert the word "Windows" into "CarPlay" that would make sense.

    Although you'd think that with the image most people have of the Windows brand, having it in your car would be just about the last place you'd want it. Even if in reality it were perfectly stable and had nothing to do with the mechanical function of the vehicle, the concept that you'd have to deal with Windows to make your car go and it might bluescreen would be a marketing nightmare for car companies.

    Not that Sync didn't turn into something of a nightmare for Ford as it was--though I've never used it personally, according to some non-Apple-site articles it had enough problems to drag the entire Ford brand down.

  1. tundaman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-04-10

    And remember: if you install this system in your car and it suddenly stop working, all you'll have to do is close all windows and restart it! XD

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    I... I can't... there are just too many jokes, I can't say anything!

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Microsoft's in-car systems must be way more popular than I previously believed. Every vehicle I've ever owned has had windows in the car!

  1. Dr. Fyzziks

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-28-09

    Microsoft has been at this for awhile, although most of you are probably too young to remember the Microsoft "AutoPC" from wayyy back in 1998.

    More recently, Microsoft is responsible for the Ford Sync system ... which explains why I hated my Ford Focus so much.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Just by looking at the video demo, there are still just too much stuffs cramping in that screen. The "Windows" logo alone is a waste of screen space and distractive. I don't think Microsoft had learned anything from the Sync interface. Sync (MyFord Touch) is like OMG.... talk about cramping every unnecessary details into that small screen. I feel safer looking at my iPhone than at Sync while driving.

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