Microsoft offers complete solutions, specifically for in-car telematics and infotainment systems.
The systems are based on the Windows CE platform, which has been used in pocket computers, so called PDAs, for navigation programs and other software since 2001.
Microsoft's automotive business unit plans to "unite the IT world with its short life cycles of 12 to 24 months and the automobile world with its development cycles that are up to six times longer," said Juergen Za. Za is based in Munich and coordinates Microsoft's marketing activities in Europe.
During a car's lifetime, several software updates are necessary. Microsoft plans to undertake these updates via the cellular radio network in the future.
This means no visits to the workshop will be necessary.
Za said the cost for software will represent 13 percent of the price of a car by 2010. Today it represents between 5 percent and 8 percent.
Za said that his company's share in the automotive software market is still significantly below 10 percent.
Microsoft platform systems have so far been installed in 23 models, primarily at European brands: BMW, VW, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Lancia, Volvo and also Toyota and Hyundai.
Microsoft supplies the Bluetooth control system for cell phones and the on-board navigation system for the BMW 5 and 7 series.
The infotainment systems in the Lancia Thesis, some future Alfa Romeo models, the VW Phaeton, the VW Caravelle and the Passat successor, are based on Microsoft's CE Automotive platform.