Microsoft licenses Apple’s Fairplay?

“Ford Motor Co. plans to offer an in-car communication and entertainment system from Microsoft Corp. as an option in a dozen Ford, Mercury and Lincoln models starting later this year and in nearly all of its vehicles next year,” Todd Bishop reports for The Seattle Post-Intellligencer.

Bishop reports, “The technology connects to a mobile phone for making hands-free calls, and to a portable media device for controlling and playing music through the audio system. Ford will use the name ‘Sync’ for its version of the Microsoft system… Microsoft previously struck a similar deal with Italy’s Fiat Auto, the company behind the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands. But the Ford pact secures a key spot for Microsoft’s software among the Big 3 North American automakers… Ford, meanwhile, says it sees the Microsoft system as one way to differentiate its vehicles in the eyes of car buyers.”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, working with Microsoft will “differentiate” you alright.

Bishop continues, “The automaker’s ‘recovery as a business depends upon having products that customers absolutely must own,’ said Gary Jablonski, Ford’s manager for infotainment system product development.”

MacDailyNews Take: Note to Ford: Microsoft sucks. They don’t make “absolutely-must-own” products any more than you do.

Bishop continues, “The system will connect via USB port with iPods and other music devices, including Microsoft’s Zune, to let drivers browse and play music using voice commands or buttons. Details about songs and phone calls will be visible on the radio display or another screen inside the car. Microsoft has worked out a deal to let the system play songs encoded in Apple’s FairPlay AAC format. Previous versions of the Microsoft Auto system played songs from iPods in unprotected formats, but not those encoded in that way.”

Full article here.
Microsoft “has worked out a deal” with whom “to let the system play songs encoded in Apple’s FairPlay AAC format?” Apple? Or perhaps DVD Jon’s DoubleTwist venture? Maybe Navio? What’s the deal, exactly? No offense to reporter Bishop, but that deal is the big story here, not the deal between a struggling car maker and a company known for bloated, uninspiring, insecure, counterintuitive software.

Related article:
When crap collides: Ford and Microsoft team up for in-vehicle operating system – December 29, 2006
DVD Jon cracks Apple’s FairPlay DRM, looks to license it – October 23, 2006
DVD Jon reverse-engineers Apple’s FairPlay DRM, starts to license it – October 02, 2006
Navio threatens to hack Apple iTunes Music Store’s FairPlay DRM à la Real’s ‘Harmony’ – November 22, 2005


  1. Oh, and by the way, the audio system on my Mercedes plays fairplay protected AAC tracks on my iPod and displays them on the dash. Gives me iPod control from the steering wheel. Why haven’t I heard about Mercedes Benz getting a fairplay license?

  2. Seems to me that you would not need to license Fairplay. The iPod does the unencoding and sends out audio. Just like the thrid party systems that let you play your iPod stuff on your TV. What I’m sure they had to license is the “Made for iPod” stuff, and then Apple gives them the info to communicate with the iPod to make it work. Same stuff Apple has licensed to a bunch of car dealers, except Microsoft couldn’t play Zune on those, so they had to come up with something new, and they knew if it didn’t play iPod, no-one would buy it.

    Microsoft once again can hear the world run away from them, and they are trying to catch Apple’s coatails to make some money. Like MS Office for Mac, smart, actually.

  3. How many reasons do you need not to buy a Ford Product, this just adds to the list, no wonder the US Auto industry is dead (or soon will be).

    MW: “going” as the US auto industry is going going going… gone.

  4. I have a GM car with OnStar and am rather impressed with it – especially the GPS side. If you call them they know exactly where the car is and can arrange any assistance. Poor MS has a long way to go to catch up with them.

  5. Hey what’s up with the Ford bashing here? I happen to like my 2006 Ford Explorer very much…. Then again, I suppose that anyone or anything that strikes any sort of deal with Microsoft goes on the MDN blacklist. Mature, very mature.

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