Microsoft jams ‘Windows Automotive’ into cars; will it work with Apple’s iPod?

“Microsoft wants your next car or SUV to run Windows. It’s no joke. The world’s largest software company is revving up to position itself as the largest supplier of software to car manufacturers, with a custom version of Windows CE controlling everything from in-vehicle entertainment to satellite navigation,’ Declan McCullagh reports for CNET News.

“‘We’re providing the end-to-end telematic system,’ says Peter Wengert, an electrical engineer who is now a marketing manager for Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit. Telematics is the auto industry’s term for networked cars. Microsoft is racing to take advantage of what appears to be an inexorable trend toward smarter cars,” McCullagh reports.

“‘When I say, ‘Get my driving directions,’ I can say ‘Get my cheapest gas,” Wengert said. ‘It finds the nearest gas station and the cheapest gas station because it knows the location of the car.’ Wengert also demonstrated how the in-car speakers could be used to make phone calls, but with less luck: it took him four tries before the computer got the phone number right,” McCullagh reports.

“‘What happens when I want to bring digital music into the car? It’s a little tough to stream that over cellular networks,’ Wengert says. ‘Our philosophy is to put your music on a storage device. That’s going to be a lot cheaper. People don’t want to have to buy an iPod to play their music.’ Apple Computer’s wildly popular iPod does offer a USB connection, but in an effort to curb piracy, hides the music files when it’s connected to a PC. Wengert says whether it will work on a Windows Automotive system is a ‘question for Apple.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We can imagine Microsoft “asking” Apple to adopt WMA support if they want to interface with vehicles. Of course, the consumer has to opportunity to speak quite loudly and with over 92 percent market share, the iPod is in many car buyers’ pockets already. We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but Apple needs to work harder to get iPods integrated better in cars. FM transmitters don’t cut it in areas with even moderate populations. We just want an in-dash unit with a simple slot that accepts the iPod like an 8-Track tape (and wouldn’t it be cool if you could rip straight from the CD slot to the iPod right in the car?). The in-dash unit’s display and controls would mirror and control the iPod’s functions. That would seem to be the simplest, easiest idea; one that would sell and be explained to the average car buyer easily. Come on, Apple, partner up with some large head unit makers that supply major auto makers and get this thing designed, built, and installed!

66 Comments

  1. I have to wonder, if you could insert the iPod like an 8-track tape, would that scratch the iPod? If it does, you can bet the farm that no one would want it.

    I don’t see a problem with have a separate dock unit for the iPod. At least it won’t get scratched.

  2. what scares the hell out of me with windows in the car…

    doesn’t anyone remember the air traffic control center that went offline due to a windows crash and “blinded” over 800 flights in the air?

    doesn’t anyone remember a nuclear sub getting “lost” due to a windows server failure?

    will it take someone to die due to faulty windows for industries to sit and take notice that micrsooft puts out crappy code?

    i am terrified by the thoughts. and now the prospect of it in my car? kill me now please, i don’t want to be around for the carnage that will insue.

  3. I have thought for a while that Apple is dragging its feet with iPod car/house integration. There is a lot lot more they could be doing. The MDN cartridge idea is a great one.

  4. Great, now I have to deal with viruses in my car.

    Who’s gonna be the first family that sues Micros**t for unlawful death because their car software got a virus and went over a cliff.

  5. It took him 4 tries to get it to dial correctly…

    “Car, turn left at the next street.”
    “Car, turn left!”
    “CAR, TURN LEFT!”
    “LEFT! LEFT! LEFT!!”

    **BAM**

  6. Re: MDN’s suggestion that you should be able to rip from a CD to your iPod right out of your car stereo.

    I don’t think this would be a very useful function. If you ripped from CD to iPod in your car, the songs would not be synched with your iTunes library at home. If you already had the CD at the house, you’d be better off putting into your iTunes collection and having it automatically put on your iPod at next sync. If you just bought it at the store, drop it in the CD player of the car and listen to it that way (lossless) and put it in your iTunes library later.

    Why add cost to the unit (which will already be expensive) by trying to add that functionality when the functionality would really be useless? How often would you really use that functionality?

  7. Oh, the inhumanity!! Why don’t we just put McDonalds in charge of Health and Human Services! Why don’t we just put Enron in charge of the Energy Department. Why don’t we put Microsoft in charge of most of the worlds computers�oops�

    help?�

    anyone?�

    please?�

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